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Court: Medical pot users OK to drive

Authorities in Traverse City, Michigan, have dropped intoxicated driving charges against a man who was arrested in 2010 for driving with marijuana in his system. The man, age 51, is a medical marijuana patient. The state's new ruling has effectively changed the state's touted "zero tolerance" policy against medical marijuana users who get behind the wheel.

Now, the state's Supreme Court has set a definitive standard for intoxicated driving among this population. Officers must prove that the person is incapable of safe driving because of impairment; the presence of marijuana in the bloodstream is not necessarily a reliable indicator.

Authorities report that the defendant in this case was pulled over while driving in 2010. He admitted to officers that he had smoked medical marijuana about five hours before he was apprehended. This case led to a protracted legal battle in the state courts that involved several appeals. A lower court first determined that the man was protected by his card-carrying status as a marijuana patient thanks to a 2008 law passed by Michigan voters. The appellate court overturned that ruling, but the Supreme Court vacated that decision, confirming the protections that had previously been extended to medical marijuana users.

In this case, the evidence for impaired driving was admittedly sparse, but there was THC present in the man's bloodstream. Legislators are calling for additional guidelines to determine the meaning of "under the influence" in the context of medical marijuana use.

If you are facing OWI or similar charges because of your medical marijuana use, this ruling could have a significant effect on the outcome of your case. Your qualified criminal defense attorney should be aware of this legal change. That person can help protect your rights and help you learn more about your responsibilities throughout the entire legal process. Do not suffer fear and anxiety because of your intoxicated driving case; fortify your position with assistance from a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

Source:  record-eagle.com, "Medical pot driver's charge dropped" Matt Troutman, May. 30, 2013