Appeals court: Michigan medical pot law doesn’t protect users who drive

  • By Karen Bouffard
  • Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing— A medical marijuana card does not protect users from prosecution for driving with the substance in their bloodstream under Michigan’s “zero tolerance” law, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.

The appeals panel overruled two lower courts in deciding the statute that prohibits driving with any amount of a Schedule 1 substance in the body supersedes protections afforded by the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act.

The Legislature is currently reviewing a package of bills meant to clarify how Michigan’s marijuana law should be implemented. Supporters of medical marijuana maintain that traces of marijuana remain in the bloodstream for weeks, long after the substance has ceased to affect users’ driving abilities.

In the appeals court case, Rodney Lee Koon was pulled over for speeding 83 miles an hour in a 55 mile an hour zone. The arresting officer smelled intoxicants, and Koon admitted to having consumed one beer

Koon consented to a pat down, voluntarily removed a pipe and explained that he had a medical marijuana registry card and had last smoked marijuana five to six hours previously.

A blood test revealed that Koon had active THC, a chemical component of marijuana, in his system. Koon was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a Schedule 1 controlled substance in his body under the “zero tolerance” law.

The district court concluded that the Medical Marihuana Act protected the defendant from conviction unless prosecutors could show Koon was actually impaired by the presence of marijuana in his body, and the Circuit Court agreed.

The higher court opinion noted that the act recognizes a number of circumstances under which the medical use of marijuana is not permitted, and specifically states that the protections do not apply to operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. However, the act doesn’t define the meaning of “under the influence.”

The panel observed that the Medical Marihuana Act, or the Legislature, could have rescheduled marijuana to one of the other schedules but did not.

The panel concluded: “(T)he Legislature has determined that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana in the driver’s system.”

Dan Bain is a criminal defense attorney with offices in NOVI and Howell Michigan. Practicing criminal law for 19 years and coming from a family of Lawyers with over 90 years of combined legal experience Dan Bain can help you with any questions you may have relating to a driving offense. Dan Bain regularly appears in the 52- DISTRICT COURT ,covering the cities ofNOVI, NOVI TWP , SOUTY LYON , WOLVERINE LAKE, COMMERCE TWP, MILFORD, NEW HUDSON  , THE 16TH District court ,Livonia ,53rd District Court , BRIGHTON, HOWELL,LIVINGSTON COUNTY. Dan Bain will be happy to answer any questions you have about , MEDICAL MARIJUANA, DRUNK  DRIVING,  OWI, DUI,  OWIV ,  OPERATING WITH THE PRESENCE OF DRUGS,  MIP,  MINOR IN POSESSION OR ANY OTHER CRIMINAL OR TRAFFIC MATTER . Contact Dan Bain at BAIN & BAIN P.C. (248) 380-8787 or 1 800 334-5689.