When I-502 passed in 2012, big changes happened in Washington. The Initiative didn’t just create rules for the legal use of marijuana, there were some trickle down impacts that most defense attorneys saw coming.
To appease those who were skeptical that a civilized society could use cannabis without absolute chaos ensuing, there were numerous “safe guards” that were created. There were educational programs set up through the state to help people learn about cannabis and the risks to teens. Information was disseminated regarding medical marijuana authorization and who would be considered credentialed under the oversight of the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. Additionally, to address the risk of people becoming impaired and driving, lawmakers decided on a per se standard with regard to Marijuana DUIs.
The skeptics got their way
In Washington, the per se standard is 5ng of THC per milliliter of blood. This standard met with disapproval by many who found it arbitrary. There was research prior to the passing of the Initiative, as well as following it, which did not support the notion that THC and Carboxy-THC could predict driving impairment. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
Carboxy-THC does not measure psychomotor impairment and, additionally, this metabolite can exist in your system for hours, days, or weeks after use. Some citizens and defense attorneys were concerned that, despite waiting to drive for an appropriate time following the use of cannabis, the per se rule of 5 ng/mL would subject a person to a DUI who was not actually impaired. Since science has yet to provide us a bright line rule regarding cannabis use and impairment, the debate continues and so does the per se standard.
Get educated if you choose to use marijuana
Whether you agree or disagree with the per se standard of 5ng/mL, it is important for those who use cannabis recreationally or for medicinal reasons to educate themselves on this topic. It is entirely possible to be arrested for a Marijuana DUI even if you have not smoked or ingested cannabis for more than the suggested time by Washington State Department of Health or WSLCB. You may believe (perhaps accurately) that you are not impaired, but it is still possible to be prosecuted for DUI.