Georgia Prepares to Handle Marijuana Based DUIs if the State Legalizes

Can I be charged with a DUI if a blood test reveals the presence of marijuana?

Marijuana has a long and storied history in America and across the world.  History reveals that cannabis has been grown in America dating back to the early colonial period.  Marijuana was first criminalized back in 1937 with the Marijuana Tax Act.  The Act imposed a tax on the sale, possession, or transfer of hemp products, allowing just industrial production to continue.  In 1970, the Controlled Substances Act launched the War on Drugs and marijuana became a Schedule 1 drug, with its possession, sale, or cultivation coming with harsh criminal penalties.

Since the 1970s, however, America’s attitude regarding marijuana has shifted.  Increasing evidence has emerged that, for some conditions, marijuana actually has medicinal purposes.  California was the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in 1996.  Since that time, now 29 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico allow for medical marijuana under some circumstances.  In the latest move towards acceptance of marijuana, at least ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized the recreational use of small amounts of cannabis.

Georgia has thus far legalized just THC oil for those with certain medical conditions, but there has been a push in the state towards broader legalization of the drug.  Atlanta has moved to decriminalize the drug, which does not legalize it but does give prosecutors the power to decline to proceed with a charge against those arrested with small amounts.  In Georgia, police officers and prosecutors are preparing for how they will handle driving under the influence charges for marijuana users.

Testing for Marijuana Use in Drivers

Georgia officials have a different standard set for drivers pulled over on suspicion of drug use, as opposed to intoxicated drivers.  Whereas alcohol can be accurately detected with a breath test, blood tests which detect marijuana can show the presence of the drug for weeks or even months.  Accordingly, it is not enough to show a positive blood test in order to convict a driver of drugged driving.

Officers who stop a driver on suspicion of drugged driving will need to find evidence of the driver’s less than safe driving, along with a positive blood test.  For example, drivers who struggle to complete the field sobriety testing or who committed a traffic infraction that led to the stop may face drugged driving charges.  It is critical that anyone stopped on suspicion of drugged driving contact an experienced DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

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Carter Pilgrim
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Suwanee, GA 30024

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