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In Arizona: The Presence of Marijuana Metabolites Is Considered a Crime if They Are Present While You Are Driving

This month-old metabolite, which is inactive, doesn’t have any impairing effects at all, but simply by it being present, it is a crime if you were driving.

Interviewer: So if you haven’t smoked in two weeks and you’re obviously not impaired but you have metabolite present in your system, they will still charge you with DUI and you say that it’s still a crime?

Brian: Correct and the Arizona Court of Appeals recently confirmed that. That even though it is not impairing, even though it can stay in your system for a month, it is against Arizona law to drive while having marijuana’s metabolite in your system.

Interviewer: Does that even make sense?

Brian: No, it doesn’t and that’s going up to the Supreme Court, but that’s how the Court of Appeals just ruled in a published opinion so that is what all of the courts have to follow.

It doesn’t make sense, I don’t know why there is any reason to punish someone who has a marijuana metabolite in his or her system when it sticks around for about a month but that’s the state of the law.

Defending a Marijuana-Related DUI Charge: Did the Police Have Reasonable Suspicion to Order a Chemical Test?

Now, the issue becomes under what theory did the officer have or what reason did the officer have to get the person’s blood or urine in the first place? If we are talking about the marijuana metabolite’s metabolite showing up in somebody’s blood or urine, what reason did that officer have to suspect that someone was under the influence especially if the only thing that’s in his or her system is something that has no intoxicating effect and has no impairing effect?

You can still try and argue against the admission of that evidence, saying that the officer obviously could not have seen the signs and symptoms of marijuana usage when the only thing that came back was a non-impairing metabolite of marijuana. Sometimes people are charged and convicted and it’s ridiculous but the law says it’s fine.

Interviewer: It’s just the bias that’s making marijuana one of the most unnecessarily dangerous things you can ingest. Cocaine and heroin and all of the other illegal drugs don’t seem to stay in the body nearly as long, right?

Brian: No, marijuana is one of the substances that stays in the blood stream and the the urine longer than any other drug or metabolite. Here’s the other issue that comes into play, the problem is, is that a person who smoked marijuana will have active THC in their system for maybe a day or so.

Second-Hand Smoke: Being in the Regular Presence of a Marijuana Smoker Will Result in the Metabolite Being Present in Your System

They will have the marijuana’s metabolite’s metabolite in their system for about a month. The person who is around someone who smokes marijuana but they do not smoke marijuana can have marijuana’s metabolite in their system.

Even though they have never smoked marijuana, if they are around someone enough they may have the metabolite of marijuana in their system and that could show up 30 days later.

To add more insult to injury, Arizona law–when it passed the medical marijuana law–could have simply put a provision in the law that said if you know someone or if you are a friend of someone, who has a medical marijuana card and is smoking medical marijuana you do not have a duty to “run away.”

You can keep company with your friend or relative who is smoking marijuana on their valid medical marijuana card. If you’re doing that and you happen to be inhaling the marijuana that they are exhaling, you could end up with a metabolite in your system.

Even if You Have the Marijuana Metabolite Present From Inhaling Second-Hand Smoke, You Will Be Subject to the Maximum Penalty

You can literally be convicted of a DUI for driving with marijuana metabolite in your system when you have never smoked marijuana in your life.

Interviewer: That’s completely ridiculous. Is there any distinction in the level of punishment if you have active metabolites in your system or is it inactive for any illegal drug?

Brian: There is no difference between the active substance of a drug or the metabolites.

The Penalty Could Result in a One-Year Loss of Your Driver’s License

Here’s the kicker, when we are discussing having either the drug or the drug’s metabolite or the drug’s metabolite’s metabolite, whether it is prescription medication or an illegal drug, if there is a conviction on any of those your license is revoked for one year.

If you were convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol your license would be suspended for 90 days. If it due to illegal drugs or prescription medications it is revoked for one year.

This becomes a much worse punishment for people who are literally doing what they are legally entitled to do in taking their prescription medications.

By Brian Douglas Sloan

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AZ DUI Defense Lawyer Brian Douglas Sloan
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