Medical-marijuana cardholders in Arizona who drive after using the drug may face a difficult legal choice: their driver’s license or their marijuana card. If they use both, they could be charged with DUI.
Valley prosecutors say that any trace of marijuana in a driver’s blood is enough to charge a motorist with driving under the influence of drugs and that a card authorizing use of medical pot is no defense.
But advocates of medical marijuana, which voters approved in November 2010, argue that the presence of marijuana in a person’s bloodstream is not grounds for charging drivers who are allowed to use the drug.
The legal battle over the rights of medical-marijuana cardholders to drive while medicating is being fought in the state’s court system. Motorists convicted in municipal courts, which typically rule it unlawful for a driver to have any trace of marijuana in his or her blood, are appealing cases to Superior Court, where judges’ decisions could set precedents for how the medical-marijuana law applies to Arizona drivers.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia authorize the use of marijuana for medical purposes, making marijuana-related DUIs an issue for police, prosecutors and politicians nationwide.