In 2018, state voters approved Michigan Proposal 1. In essence, the vote legalized marijuana throughout the state.
It expanded on the state’s already-passed medical marijuana law to allow for recreational use. Bypassing Proposal 1, voters OK’d people in the state who are at least 21 years old to purchase, use and possess marijuana for recreational use. It also allowed people to grow as many as 12 marijuana plants in their own homes for their personal use.
One of the biggest concerns for people who were opposed to the law is the impact it would have on people driving under the influence in the state. There are, however, strict laws when it comes to using marijuana and driving — or being under the influence of it.
Here are the details of marijuana usage and driving in the state of Michigan.
Marijuana Treated Like Alcohol
While Michigan has legalized marijuana for both medical and recreational usage, you still cannot get behind the wheel of a car if you are under the influence. In many ways, the state treats marijuana usage and driving similar to alcohol usage.
It doesn’t matter why you are using marijuana, whether recreationally or for medical usage. You cannot operate a motor vehicle and consume marijuana while doing it.
You also can’t drive in Michigan if you’re under the influence of marijuana. This means you can’t use marijuana at home or another location and then get behind the wheel while you’re still considered high.
This is exactly the same as alcohol consumption. While anyone over the age of 21 can purchase, possess and consume alcohol in the state of Michigan, driving under the influence of alcohol in the state is illegal.
Michigan takes this law one step further, too. Even if you aren’t driving, you are prohibited from smoking marijuana if you’re a passenger in a car or truck that’s on a public road.
In other words, you can smoke inside a car if it’s parked in your driveway or garage, but not if it’s parked on the side of a road or if you’re a passenger while someone else is driving.
Tests Are Similar to Alcohol, Too
One of the more controversial aspects of Michigan’s driving under the influence law is that there are no breathalyzer-like tests for marijuana. This is an issue that many states have when it comes to pulling people over who they think is driving under the influence of marijuana.
For alcohol, police can use a simple breathalyzer test to determine whether a driver is over the legal limit. The driver will blow into the breathalyzer, which will then instantly spit out a number and tell the officer whether the driver is over the legal limit or not.
There is no such test for marijuana just yet. As such, police officers have to rely on other evidence at the scene that is considered circumstantial. This evidence is very similar to how officers make a full determination for driving under the influence of alcohol.
This could include the officer’s observation of how the person was driving; whether the office can smell marijuana; statements made by witnesses, the driver, and other passengers; and standard field sobriety tests.
There is a chemical blood test that can detect whether or not marijuana is present in someone’s system. However, there’s no legal limit for THC — the active ingredient in marijuana that gives people a “high” feeling — so there is some controversy there as well.
The Except for Medical Marijuana
There is one exception to Michigan’s marijuana law that applies only to medical marijuana. Even this, though, is up for some debate, despite a ruling from the state’s Supreme Court.
In 2013, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the medical marijuana act in the state trumps the zero-tolerance policy the state has for detecting the presence of THC in someone’s body.
What this means, in layman’s terms, is that people who have a prescription for medical marijuana cannot be charged under the state’s DUI statute according to its zero-tolerance policy.
What the state of Michigan would have to prove if they wanted to charge such a driver with DUI, in this case, is that the person was impaired at the time they were driving. In other words, prosecutors would have to prove that the person was impaired at the time they were driving in order to charge them with a DUI.
If they can only prove that marijuana was detected in their system, but can’t prove they were impaired while driving, then they can’t be charged.
Again, this exception only applies to the patient who is prescribed medical marijuana, and no one else.
Be Safe on the Road
The state of Michigan may have legalized medical and recreational use of marijuana, but it takes a very strict and stern stance when it comes to people driving under the influence. Police are patrolling the streets looking to catch people who are under the influence and charge them for their risky driving.
Even though there is a very limited situation in which people with a medical marijuana prescription could drive with it in their system, it may not be the best idea. The state would have to prove that the person was under the influence at the time of driving to charge them with a DUI.
But is it really worth the chance and the hassle?
At Signature Insurance, we always advise our clients to be safe on the road. This includes following all traffic signals and rules of the road, as well as driving under the influence laws for alcohol and marijuana.
We’re always here to protect our clients as best as we can. Our experienced and friendly agents provide our clients with the best insurance plans that keep them protected if they’re ever needed.
Call us today to find out more and get your free quote.
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