Marijuana and Driving Under the Influence: How Are Police Detecting THC in Drivers?

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If the police pulled you over for driving under the influence of pot, you need an attorney with experience and skill in DUI cases. Marijuana laws are changing all over the country, and police are using modern technologies to test for THC in people they pull over for suspicion of intoxication.

Here is what you need to know about how police are detecting THC in drivers in Florida and across the United States.

Marijuana Laws in Florida

Currently, recreational marijuana is not legal in Florida. However, as in the rest of the country, Florida marijuana laws are beginning to change.

In 2014, Florida passed a law that expanded the number of people who could have access to medical marijuana. It was aimed specifically at people with epilepsy and other seizure problems.

In 2016, Florida changed the law again so that the terminally ill could access full-strength medical marijuana, no matter the concentration of THC. In the same year, people started growing and dispensing marijuana.

Florida voters (71% of them) supported allowing full-strength marijuana and loosening the definition of “debilitating medical condition” so more people with illnesses could have access to medical marijuana.

Amendment 2, which allowed the changes, does not affect the recreational drug laws, however. You can still be arrested if you are smoking marijuana in public or driving while under the influence of marijuana. The rules about recreational marijuana are in line with federal law, which does not allow marijuana possession or distribution.

Amendment 2 allows medical professions six months to clarify the specific rules and nine months to give patients the identification cards that give them the legal right to purchase medical marijuana. Until then, doctors can decide for themselves if they want to prescribe marijuana to a patient who suffers from one of the applicable ailments. However, physicians can prescribe medical marijuana to patients if they have been treating a patient for at least 90 days.

Florida has nurseries across the state that distribute to companies and will soon open its own dispensaries. The dispensaries will sell oils, tinctures, and other marijuana products. It is still illegal to smoke marijuana, even for a medical reason.

How Do Police Detect THC for DUIs?

Marijuana use is far more difficult to notice in drivers than alcohol use. Most officers have not been trained to detect marijuana. Despite the lack of training, however, courts often rely on an officer’s subjective opinion about whether someone was under the influence of marijuana. Police are working to find ways to make it easier to spot and crack down on people driving under the influence of marijuana.

Many companies and researchers are working to create a breathalyzer that measures THC. A breathalyzer for THC would make it easier and less expensive for the police to track marijuana use in drivers. It would also make the check legal, as recent decisions in the Supreme Court have made blood tests illegal without an official warrant.

Police officers in some states have developed a mouth swab device that can detect marijuana. However, though it can detect the presence of drugs, it cannot measure the level of intoxication. Therefore, the mouth swab cannot serve as the sole proof of someone driving under the influence of marijuana.

What to Do If the Police Pull You Over

The easiest way to avoid this situation is to avoid using marijuana before driving. There is no concrete way that police officers can judge how high the level of THC in your blood is, but they can force you to take a blood test if they think there is obvious evidence of marijuana use, so there is still a risk. If you’ve ingested or smoked pot, driven, and gotten pulled over, speak with an attorney who is well-versed in Florida marijuana use laws.