In more and more states, marijuana is treated less as a dangerous controlled substance, and more as medicine or even as a recreational product. In Georgia, possession of marijuana is still criminalized. Possession of an ounce or less is a misdemeanor, while possession of more than that can be a felony.
State law is especially harsh when it comes to marijuana and drivers. Even without possessing any marijuana, a driver can be arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. This is a misdemeanor offense, but an arrest for cannabis DUI does not need to lead to a conviction.
If the police pull over a car for speeding, failing to make a complete stop, or even a broken tail light, they will be looking to see if the driver is impaired. If the officer thinks they detect the smell of marijuana, this may lead to an arrest. The police will try and get the driver to admit to smoking marijuana. The police may also try and get the driver to perform a series of Standardized Field Sobriety Tests, or SFSTs, such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (eye test), walk and turn, or one leg stand test. However, these sobriety tests were designed to test for impairment of drivers for alcohol, not for marijuana.
DUI with Cannabis Charges
After an arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence of cannabis, the police will usually get a blood sample to test for drugs. If the drug test is positive for cannabis, the driver may think that they are guilty, and accept a guilty plea from the prosecutor without ever having talked to a lawyer. However, you need to understand that just because you were arrested for a cannabis DUI, and even if you test positive for drugs, this does not necessarily mean you are guilty.
A positive blood test for marijuana does not mean that the driver is impaired, only that they may have some evidence of cannabis or cannabis metabolites in the body. The problem is that that these can stay in the system for days after smoking or consuming cannabis. If you smoked some marijuana, you may be feeling the effects for an hour or two. However, if the police test your blood over a week later, it would show evidence of marijuana.
No Georgia Medical Marijuana Exception
Medical marijuana legislation has passed in more than 20 states, with many more considering the issue. Georgia is not one of them. Georgia does not have medical marijuana laws at the moment, and still criminalizes possession even if recommended by a physician. If a driver is arrested for driving under the influence of cannabis for medical use, the law will not give them any special treatment.
Cannabis DUI Defense
It is important to understand the difference between a positive drug test for cannabis, and impairment by cannabis. Just because the police arrested you in Atlanta for driving under the influence of cannabis does not mean that you are guilty of impaired driving. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a cannabis DUI, you need to contact a qualified and experienced Atlanta DUI lawyer with training in DUI drug detection, and field sobriety tests. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of marijuana, give me a call as soon as you can. I will make sure you get the fair treatment you deserve.