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Medical marijuana users face risk of drugged driving charges in Maryland

Baltimore readers know that the state of Maryland recognizes the use of marijuana for medical purposes, provided they go through the proper channels and meet state requirements for medical marijuana use. Still, those who use medical marijuana can be targeted for DUI for marijuana use.

Under Maryland law, a driver can be found guilty of DUI for marijuana use under a couple of circumstances: when a driver is not entitled to use the marijuana by virtue of participation in the state’s medical marijuana program; or when a driver operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of a drug to the extent that safe operation of the vehicle is impossible.

Those who are valid participants in the state’s medical marijuana program obviously have an affirmative defense to marijuana DUI charges based on lack of entitlement to use the drug. With respect to the other ground for marijuana DUI, it is important for defendants to build a strong defense challenging the evidence presented by prosecutors.

Prosecutors, relying on evidence gathered by police officers, have to be able to show beyond a reasonable doubt that a driver targeted for marijuana DUI was in fact under the influence of the drug and that this influence was substantial enough that he or she was unable to safely operate his or her vehicle.

Several types of evidence may be presented in order to make this case, including evidence of traffic violations demonstrating unsafe driving, failure of field sobriety tests, and blood testing. Maryland has not established a legal limit for THC levels as some other states have, so blood test results do not create presumptive evidence of substantial drug influence. Still, blood test results could be used to demonstrate drug influence, which would go to the overall case.

In our next post, we’ll continue discussing this topic, and a particular tool being developed which could potentially help medical marijuana users stay out of trouble. 

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