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Marijuana is Legal in Michigan, But How Do the Laws Impact Drivers?

picture depicting medical marijuanaMedical marijuana was legalized ten years ago, however, recreational possession and use of this drug was only legalized in December 2018. Nearly two years later, many drivers are unaware of the potential risks and legal issues for operating a vehicle while under the influence of medical or recreational marijuana.

Our Grand Rapids car accident attorneys at Jay Trucks and Associates shed some light on state laws regarding the use of marijuana in Michigan and how those laws impact drivers.

Learn whether you may have legal options after being injured in an accident due to a drug impaired driver. Representatives at our law offices can take your call 24/7 to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys. There is no obligation for this service.

Can You Use Marijuana and Drive?

No. While that answer may seem obvious to many – since any use of marijuana before driving is unsafe – others may be unaware of the risks. Since becoming legalized in multiple states across the U.S., the percentage of fatal car crashes involving drivers who tested positive for Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – has more than doubled, according to AAA.

Regardless of whether you use CBD oil for medicinal use or a form of THC for recreational purposes, it is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug. The side effects are slightly different for each however, both impact your ability to drive safely.

Can Passengers Use Marijuana While You Drive?

No one riding in a car or truck may use marijuana while the vehicle is on a public road. Additionally, under state law, the recreational possession and use of marijuana is only legal for people who are 21 years of age or older.

Side Effects of Marijuana That Impact Your Ability to Drive

While CBD oil does not produce a high, people using it for medicinal purposes, such as for pain, migraines, anxiety, inflammation, seizures, depression, nausea and more, may still experience side effects.

Common Medical Uses and Side Effects of CBD

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Low blood pressure
  • Negative interactions with other medications

THC, on the other hand, produces a high often just seconds or minutes after smoking or vaping marijuana. The full effect of THC can take as long as 30 minutes to peak once in your system. The side effects from THC take longer - up to three hours - to wear off, even longer if you absorb pot into your system by eating or drinking it. Side effects are considerably more pronounced than those from CBD oil.

THC Side Effects

  • Slower reaction time
  • Decreased coordination and motor skills
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Reduced inhibitions, which often leads to risky decision-making
  • Memory loss

The most important take away is that, just like drinking, those who use marijuana in any form are required to do so responsibly. Getting behind the wheel while high – even if you do not feel the extreme euphoria experienced with THC – is prohibited.

How Do Police Determine if You Are Operating While Intoxicated?

In Michigan, there are strict laws prohibiting getting behind the wheel and operating while intoxicated (OWI). Police may issue a roadside chemical test to assess you for one of these three types of violations:

  • Any level of alcohol, drugs – including marijuana – or “intoxicating substances” that impact your ability to drive safely
  • A blood alcohol content (BAC) level that is 0.08 or higher
  • High BAC (at or above 0.17)

Proving Liability for an Accident Involving Marijuana

If you are injured in an accident where another driver was found to have THC in his or her blood stream, it may help you to establish liability for a car accident claim. However, you – or your attorney – must be able to prove:

  • What form of marijuana was used (CBD or recreational)
  • Whether there is THC in the other driver’s bloodstream
  • Whether the other driver was operating while impaired

Michigan’s Zero Tolerance Law

Since Michigan has a zero-tolerance law, it is illegal to have any trace amount of a Schedule 1 drug in your system. This means that even if a driver does not feel impaired, if a chemical test shows any trace amount of THC, he or she can be cited with an OWI.

The zero-tolerance law applies differently to people who use marijuana for medicinal purposes. If you are trying to establish liability for a driver who may have been under the influence of medical marijuana, the burden of proof is on you or your attorney to prove impairment.

Why You Do Not Want an OWI

In Michigan, your first OWI will stay on your record for two years and may be accompanied by hefty fines and up to 93 days of jail time. There are harsher penalties assessed for repeat convictions, including a longer jail time and a Class E felony charge.

Our Trusted Attorneys are Prepared to Provide Legal Help

At Jay Trucks and Associates, we are very familiar with Michigan’s driving laws and how they may apply to your situation. Contact our offices to learn whether you may have a valid case – at no cost to you. If you decided to hire our services, there is nothing to pay while we represent you. We do not collect our fees unless we first obtain compensation for you at the conclusion of your case.

Jay Trucks and Associates. Legal help fighting for you. (800) 762-8623