On Friday, Judge Lisa Sutton in Washington rejected a request by a user of medical marijuana to block Washington state from implementing tougher rules on “stoned driving.”
After approving a measure for legalizing the use of recreational marijuana in November, from this Thursday, Washington became the first U.S. state to not only legalize marijuana recreational use, but also bring into effect new checks and balances.
The new rules, especially those related with driving under the influence of marijuana has a tolerance limit low enough to keep marijuana users from driving vehicles after a few puffs on a joint.
The mandate is clear – you smoke to enjoy at peace and at ease – but do not engage in driving while stoned, as that might put lives at risk.
Arthur West, an attorney based in Olympia brought the legal challenge to the tough “stoned driving” laws argued that the initiatives title had wrongly left out any reference to the DUI laws.
West holds that the new provisions related to “stoned driving” would allow police to target medical marijuana users, who typically have higher blood levels of THC – as they use marijuana to treat medical conditions.
West argued, “I don’t think it’s fair that the tens of thousands of [medical marijuana] patients in the state of Washington have to choose between whether they take their medicine or be subject to arrest for driving under the influence every time they get in their cars.”
However, while rejecting West’s arguments, Judge Sutton said that the police are empowered to stop drivers suspect of impaired driving. She said, “That is the same case today, after the passage of this initiative, as it was before.”
West intends to pursue the matter up to the state supreme court if necessary – in a fight that might pit the interests of recreational users of marijuana against the interests of medical marijuana users.
Other states that have contemplated the legalization of marijuana will be watching as the legal system reacts. Read the DUI News Blog for updates on this story.