Proposed Marijuana DUI Amendment Fails in California

A proposed bill that would have amended California DUI law to prohibit driving with a nearly insignificant amount of marijuana in one's system has failed in the California legislature.

Assembly Bill (AB) 2500 proposed by Assemblyman Jim Frasier of Oakley, California, would have introduced extremely low limits on marijuana, cocaine, heroin and other controlled substances, making it possible for drivers who exceeded these limits to be arrested and charged with DUI – even if their abilities were not impaired by these substances.

Medical marijuana activists and others supporting the legalization of marijuana in California were up in arms regarding this proposed bill, namely because medical marijuana users could be arrested days after using marijuana. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive element in cannabis plants, may remain in the system long after a user's "high" has passed, with THC metabolites remaining in one's bloodstream days after initial use.

AB 2500 proposed to alter California Vehicle Code 23152 and 23153 to introduce a 2 nanogram per milliliter THC limit on drivers. A nanogram is one billionth of a gram, an extremely small amount of THC to measure and a truly ridiculous limit to place on drivers, particularly considering that marijuana is approved for medical use in California.

The Assembly Public Safety Committee nixed the proposed amendments, even after they were altered. The initial bill proposed by Assemblyman Frasier would have made it "unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol of marijuana or any other drug classified in Schedules I, II, III, or IV of the California Uniform Controlled Substance Act."

"Any detectable amount" implies that drivers would have been arrested for having literally any amount of these controlled substances in their systems, including marijuana, regardless of their ability to drive safely. The bill was amended to introduce specified limits on controlled substances, including the 2 nanogram per milliliter THC limit for marijuana.

Marijuana DUI Charges Are More Difficult to Prove

At this time, there is no legal limit on marijuana for California drivers. For alcohol, there is currently a .08% blood-alcohol limit, which gives prosecutors and law enforcement a specific measurement of when a driver may be considered "under the influence." DUI of marijuana can be more difficult to prove in the absence of a specific limit, but the proposed 2 nanogram per milliliter limit that was fortunately nixed in California is even lower than the 5 nanogram per milliliter limit in Colorado, where marijuana is legal.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI involving marijuana or any drug, it is important to make sure your legal rights are protected. AB 2500 was not passed – this time – but there is no question that someone will try to propose another bill that would introduce a legal limit for marijuana and other drugs. District attorneys are looking for support that will help them prosecute drug-related DUI charges, and politicians with strong stances against drugs and DUI may be more than ready to introduce legislation that would make this possible.

Do not let your freedom and driver's license be threatened by bogus DUI charges. Call an Orange County DUI lawyer at the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry for a confidential review of your case. With our experience in challenging DUI charges and our understanding of California Vehicle Code and case law as it applies to drug-related cases, we have the skills necessary to seek the best possible result for every client we represent. Contact our offices today and get insight from a knowledgeable professional.

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