Now that Vancouver has its own two licensed retail stores selling marijuana to adults, can we expect to see an increase in people charged with marijuana based on the consumption of legal marijuana? It is probably too soon for any reliable statistics from the courts, but we should know more by this time next year.
One of the more controversial parts of I-502 was the amendment to the DUI statute, which inserted a "per se" intoxicated level for THC (the active component of marijuana) at 5 nanograms. This means that the state can charge a person with a DUI as long as his/her blood test shows there are 5 nanograms of THC in the blood, regardless of any proof of an impaired ability to drive. The law effectively equates 5 nanograms of THC with a 0.08 g/210 L of breath for alcohol.
There is scant scientific evidence to support the idea that a 5 nanogram level of THC indicates a person's ability to drive is impaired. Both NHTSA and USDOT research suggest there is a significantly variable response to THC among drivers. Also, because THC is soluble in our body fat, rather than water (as alcohol is) it persists in the system for much longer than alcohol, but long after its psychomotor effects are present.
If you are arrested for DUI, the police are allowed to ask the court to give them a warrant to seize your blood, and search it for THC or alcohol content. The results of such testing may determine whether a driver is charged with a DUI crime or not. If you are charged with DUI, be sure to contact a lawyer to find out all of your options and possible defenses to the DUI charge.