How high is too high before getting behind the wheel?

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – At the capital the senate continued to look over a bill that would create a commission to research and recommend a threshold of marijuana that would lead to impaired driving.

However, a study released Tuesday conducted by AAA goes against those efforts. The nation’s largest automobile club is calling for the legal limits for driving under the influence of marijuana, which are enforced in six states throughout the U.S., to be scrapped.

“How much is too much before the public is affected,” State Representative Peter Lucido R-Shelby Township, said.

So how high is too high before getting behind the wheel?

Representative Peter Lucido is pushing for a bill that will help determine that, so those driving with a medical marijuana license aren’t putting themselves or others at risk.

“We have to set a threshold that is reasonable, acceptable, credible, and if we don’t have that.. Then why even make a law,” Lucido said.

Right now in Michigan, police can test for alcohol when they pull over a driver. The bill awaiting approval in the senate would start the process of doing the same thing for marijuana by creating a committee to study the issue and coming up with a recommendation.

“That will put a number and nanograms which will be consistent and applicable to .08 blood alcohol under the law,” he said. “So if we can find a balance between .08 being legally drunk, what is legally high in nanograms?”

“The science is not there for them to be able to do that,” Matt Newburg said.

Newburg is a criminal defense attorney and has worked on several marijuana-related cases.

He said while this commission can help determine factors, coming up with a number is impossible.

He said one nanogram of THC in someone’s system is not going to affect their weight, their ability to operate a motor vehicle, there are studies on that from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration,” Newburg said. “Unlike alcohol, THC is the highest in your body immediately when you use it.”

THC is the active chemical in marijuana and can be found in the blood long after a person is no-longer impaired.

“If I have 40-50 minutes, an hour, two-hours of non-use and someone gets in the motor vehicle, their THC levels are going to be high but they may not feel any affects unlike alcohol,” Newburg said. “The higher that number goes, the more significant the effects are that they’re feeling.”

Newburg said if there’s a bright line rule that states a certain level of THC is indicative of someone operating while intoxicated, it could mean the difference between someone getting a noncriminal offense to a criminal one.

I’ve heard every argument that could possibly be gartered,” Lucido said. “I’ve had experts that I’ve hired in pharmacology and toxicology; I’ve also had the occasion of listening to the testing individuals from this state and out of state. People that don’t think that this is reliable, tell me why not.”

“Unreliability, that’s what we should be terrified of,” Newburg said. “There’s no harm in doing research and there’s no harm in appointing a commission to determine whether we can affix a level of THC is someone’s system, there’s substantial harm in affixing a level on unreliable data in science, because we are now then subjecting people to criminal penalties, loss of driver’s license.

The bill is in the senate, waiting for approval.

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