Operating With the Presence of Marijuana or other Schedule 1 Controlled Substances OUIN

VEHICLE CODE AND MEDICAL MARIHUANA

 

If you are a medical marihuana patient, you may wish to seek the advice of a Michigan criminal defense lawyer before operating your motor vehicle.  The Michigan State Police recently trained state troopers that, “a person shall not operate a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, including medical marihuana, in the person’s body.”

 

The basis of the training is the recent case of People v. Koon.  In Koon, the defendant was stopped by a police officer for a traffic violation. During the stop, the defendant informed the officer he had a medical marihuana patient registry identification card and had smoked marihuana five to six hours prior to being stopped. A blood test showed that the defendant had active THC in his system. The defendant was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a schedule 1 controlled substance in his body in violation of the “zero tolerance” law detailed in MCL 257.625(8).

 

The Michigan Court of Appeals held the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) does not provide protection against prosecution for violating MCL 257.625(8).  A good Michigan criminal defense lawyer should always be aware of any updates and changes to any Act or law.

 

Michigan’s Drunk Driving statute is much more broad than people realize.  In fact, most people do not know that MCL 257.625(8) prohibits a person from operating a vehicle upon a highway or certain other area open to the public with any amount of a controlled substance listed in schedule 1 under MCL 333.7212 of the Public Health Code in his or her body. Marihuana remains listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance in MCL 333.7212(1)(c) despite the passage of the MMMA.

 

MCL 333.26427(b)(4) states the protections of the MMMA do not apply to operating, navigating, or being in actual physical control of any motor vehicle or motorboat while under the influence of marihuana. The phrase “under the influence of marihuana” is not defined in the MMMA.

 

The Michigan Court of Appeals stated the definition of “under the influence” for purposes of the MMMA is the same as the definition of “under the influence” for purposes of MCL 257.625(8): the presence of any amount of a Schedule 1 controlled substance, including marihuana.

 

Therefore, the Michigan State Police have taken a position that law enforcement officers may lawfully arrest a medical marihuana patient who operates a motor vehicle with THC in his or her system.

 

Officers were reminded in the training that a chemical test result must show the presence of THC in the person’s system in order to prosecute for a violation of MCL 257.625(8). The Michigan Supreme Court, in the 2010 case People v. Feezel, held 11-carboxy-THC (produced by the body as it metabolizes THC and commonly referred to as a marihuana metabolite) is not a Schedule 1 controlled substance under MCL 333.7212.

 

There is Help for You

 

The Michigan criminal defense lawyers with the law firm of LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have been handling the defense of those charged with all operating under the influence cases for approximately 20 years.  They are nationally recognized as being among the top criminal attorneys in Michigan and in the United States.  They handle cases throughout Michigan but with a concentration on cases in Oakland County, Macomb County, Wayne County, Livingston County and Washtenaw County.  They offer a free consultation and they will find a way to help you.  Most importantly, they are not afraid to win!!