Proposition 64: Does this mean I can drive while stoned?

With the elections around the corner, marijuana has become a popular topic. Proposition 64 strives to allow the recreational usage of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older in the state of California. Yes on 64 (Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana while Protecting Children) argue that this legalization of recreational marijuana would create new taxes, including cultivation and sales taxes.   Although this proposition would legalize the recreational usage of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older, proposition 64 does have limitations and restrictions on marijuana usage and possession:

  1. Smoking is only permitted in a private home or a business licensed for on-site consumption.
  2. More than 28.5 grams of marijuana is illegal to possess.
  3. Possession of marijuana in child-related places (when children are present) is illegal.
  4. An individual can grow up to six plants in a locked area (not visible to public).
  5. Impaired driving due to marijuana usage (or any other drug) remains illegal.

Proposition 64

Driving under the influence of marijuana will remain illegal if it impairs driving abilities. California Vehicle Code 32152 (2) reads, “it is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug (including alcohol) to drive a vehicle.” Similar to the California DUI penalties for alcohol, first-time marijuana penalties may include:

  1. Informal probation for 3-5 years
  2. Serve 96 hours to 6 months in a county jail
  3. A fine of $390-$1,000
  4. License suspension for 6 months

Proposition 64

This fines will increase with each additional conviction within a 10-year period. In order to be convicted of driving while under the influence of marijuana, there must be sufficient proof that the marijuana usage was impairing the driver’s ability to maneuver the vehicle. Contrary to alcohol, there is no sufficient amount of marijuana in the bloodstream that can be used to establish impairment. Tests for marijuana can only conclude if there is marijuana in your system, although it cannot conclude the exact amount or the time frame consumed. Although useful, these chemical tests are not required to prosecute an individual for impaired driving from marijuana consumption.

Evidence to prove marijuana impaired driving may include:

  1. Your physical state (dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, rapid breathing, odor, red eyes, cotton mouth, and slow responses)
  2. Your driving style and patterns
  3. Your statements to police at the scene
  4. Your results to Field Sobriety Tests
  5. The presence of marijuana or paraphernalia at the scene
  6. Proof of marijuana addiction

Proposition 64

If charged with a DUI of marijuana, there are a handful of defenses that may be used including:

  1. The absence of marijuana, if you are consuming certain medications, such as a proton pump inhibitor, you may fall victim to a false positive on the chemical test. Besides medication side effects, it is highly unusual to receive a false positive on the chemical test without the actual consumption of marijuana.
  2. The usage of marijuana did not impair your driving, unless there are obvious signs, it is difficult to prove that a driver was too impaired to drive due to marijuana. Some prosecutors may use the argument that the driver was driving was addicted to a drug.
  3. You no longer have the high from the marijuana consumption, since chemical tests do not show the time frame of marijuana consumption, it may be hard to prove that a person is was still high at the time of driving.

Medical Marijuana usage is not a defense for impaired driving. The California Vehicle Code 23152 (e) applies to all drug consumption, including legal drugs. If proposition 64 passes, the rules of impaired driving will remain the same. Anyone that is driving with marijuana impairment will be subject to the same punishments as alcohol impairment. As a person receives more offenses, the punishment severity will increase. If you witness any impaired driving on the road, call 911 immediately. An impaired driver is a danger to themselves and others. Proposition 64 does not give the right for people to drive under the influence of marijuana. Any person under the age of 18 caught with marijuana will be sentenced to punishment, including the enrollment to drug education, community service, or counseling.

Most importantly, it is important to be responsible and be safe while driving. Do not drive if you are not able to do so – especially if you are not feeling well or under the influence of prescription medicine, drugs, or alcohol. It’s everyone’s responsibility to keep themselves and others safe on the road so we can all make it home each day!

Voters should be aware of all the pros and cons before casting their vote on November 8th. To learn more about all California propositions, visit the official site.

Proposition 64

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