The legalization of marijuana has been a hot topic in recent years, and it’s not subsiding anytime soon. Currently, eight states and Washington, D.C., allow the use of recreational marijuana, and 29 states have legalized its use for medical reasons. This means that one in five Americans lives in a state where cannabis is now legal.
While some of those states are still months away from retail operations being open, the legal and financial aspects of these pot-friendly laws are already leading to a variety of questions and concerns.
Laws against driving under the influence of alcohol or driving while intoxicated are fairly cut and dried. Every state has outlawed driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent though Utah will lower its to 0.05 percent in December 2018.
DUI laws relating to other drugs like marijuana depend on a driver’s impairment, not the amount of the substance in a person’s system. There are currently no accurate tests similar to the Breathalyzer that law enforcement can use to determine how impaired a driver is.
State laws regarding impairment levels are all over the map. Nevada law, for example, defines drivers as impaired when they’re found to have 2 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood in their system. Colorado and Washington consider 5 nanograms per milliliter to be the limit, and many other states have no set limit.
State vs. Federal
Adding to the confusion is the fact that federal law still designates marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin, LSD and other serious substances. While the previous administration took a more hands-off approach, the current administration has suggested greater enforcement of these laws in states that have legalized marijuana.