There are over 50,000 Arizonans who are able to legally use marijuana for medicinal purposes. These people are required to, first, receive a recommendation from a doctor, and then obtain an ID verification card through the state. Once they have these things in place, they’re able to purchase marijuana at dispensaries across the state and use it as suggested by their doctors.
So what happens when someone, who is legally using medicinal marijuana, gets behind the wheel of a car to drive? Do the same DUI laws apply to them that apply to those who have consumed alcohol?
That’s the question that was at the center of debate recently in a case reviewed by the Arizona Court of Appeals. It stems from an incident in December 2011, when a medical marijuana user was pulled over and arrested for DUI based on the fact that he was impaired by the marijuana. Subsequently, a jury found him guilty of DUI while having a compound of a prohibited drug in his system.
The man appealed the case, arguing that anyone who is legally authorized to use medicinal marijuana should be exempt from any DUI prosecution unless they are found impaired while driving. He argued that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act should protect those using the drug for health reasons.
After review of the case, the three-judge panel of the Arizona Court of Appeals disagreed with the man and allowed his conviction to stand. Their ruling is that medical marijuana users are not immune from prosecution if a chemical compound of marijuana is found in the suspect’s body.
We often think of DUI laws and charges are very clear-cut and black and white. In truth, there are some gray areas in the laws that can have a strong bearing on the outcome of the case. This is just one of many reasons why it’s important to have a knowledgeable attorney representing you in your DUI case. Experience is key in these matters and you’ll want an Arizona DUI attorney who is familiar with the many different scenarios that may come up.
Gilbert DUI Attorney Charlie Naegle has been representing clients involved with DUI charges for years now. If you have questions or concerns about your DUI case, give him a call today for a free consultation.