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Companies Trying to Cash In On Marijuana DUI Technology

a set of car keys with a joint and marijuana buds sitting around As of 2018, nine states have legalized recreational marijuana, as well as the District of Columbia. In total, 31 states have some form of legal cannabis—whether it’s recreational or medical—in addition to D.C. With access to cannabis on the rise, it’s not surprising to see businesses of all sorts starting to cash in on the cannabis industry.

Initially, the attraction mostly applied to growers and people who wanted to own dispensaries. As popularity for the substance has grown exponentially in the past few years, people from certified public accountants to fertilizer specialists have begun to carve out niches in the weed industry. Technology innovators are starting to make major plays in the cannabis space, too.

The Problem with Cannabis Testing

When people are arrested for an alcohol-related DUI, officers can easily take blood or breath (and sometimes urine) to determine the amount of alcohol in a person’s system. Since alcohol is metabolized fairly quickly, at a given range of 0.15 to 0.027 per hour, the presence of such substance in the body at the time of an arrest can indicate a driver’s impairment.

THC, however, hangs out in people’s bodies for days or weeks, rendering its presence at the time of an arrest irrelevant to determine impairment in most situations. Because marijuana users’ blood continues to contain the mood-altering substance long after it’s been ingested and after it has any effects, blood tests do not depict an accurate picture of a drivers’ impairment.

How Companies are Attempting to Create Impaired-by-Marijuana Testing Devices

PBS explains, “As states across the country legalize marijuana, efforts to determine whether someone is too high to drive [are] becoming a thorny public health issue.” Innovators from nearly every sector are trying to find ways to help cops determine if drivers are under the influence of marijuana when they’re pulled over. The industry has seen a spike in all sorts of creations, including brain functioning analysis and phone apps, which are intended to help officers understand if a driver is impaired as it related to marijuana usage.

The problem? Lawmakers can’t create laws around tools that might exist at some unknown time in the future. That means, for now, cops have to continue to rely on “drug recognition experts” (DREs) to administer field tests and determine if a driver is under the influence of marijuana. Some officers are specially trained to give drivers field tests, similar to those of people suspected of drunk driving. The difference is that there is no tool—at least for the time being—to positively determine if the officer’s suspicions are correct. That means such an analysis is subjective, at best. After a DRE talks to a driver and conducts a few tests, it’s up to his or her discretion to determine if the driver was impaired by marijuana while driving.

Officers typically look for the following attributes:

  • Cold, clammy, sweaty skin
  • Twitching
  • Unusual pupil size
  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Eye tracking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Inability to estimate the passage of time

As you can see, this list leaves plenty of room for human error when an officer is assessing a driver for a potential DUI. If you normally have an irregular heartbeat, you could immediately become a suspect. If you’re uncoordinated by nature, this could be a problem. If you’re taking prescription medication that causes your hands to become cold and sweaty, you’ll look suspicious. Without a hard-and-fast method of proving guilt or innocence, drivers’ fates are at the hands of officers.

A good DUI lawyer knows how to find holes in the evidence and attack the prosecution’s case. After all, there’s no BAC or legal threshold that dictates a person’s impairment. When left to the opinion of an officer, there are plenty of ways an arrest can go wrong.

Jon Artz is a Los Angeles DUI attorney who’s been doing his clients justice for decades. If you’ve been charged with a DUI of any kind—alcohol or marijuana—contact Jon. He knows how to negotiate the best deals for his clients. You don’t want to go through this process alone. Call Jon Artz at (310) 820-1315 or fill out an online contact form right away!

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