Although it does not affect someone in the same way that alcohol does, marijuana or cannabis does affect cognition and therefore ability to safely drive. Concerns about drugged driving have influenced policy in many states as lawmakers or voters legalized medical and recreational marijuana use.
Some of the states with the best-established legalization or medical marijuana programs have science-based statutes establishing a chemical threshold or per se limit for the active ingredients in marijuana in the bloodstream. Individuals who have recently consumed marijuana could face DUI charges even in states where it is legal to consume marijuana if they violate such statutes.
Here in Georgia, unfortunately, the approach to DUI marijuana charges is far less scientific. The current approach used by law enforcement officers and prosecutors in Georgia could put drivers at risk of drugged driving charges when they are actually sober.
Georgia tests for metabolites
Improved chemical testing has made it possible for medical professionals to determine that someone currently has the active compounds from marijuana in their bloodstream. The state can then determine the level of those compounds and potentially prosecute someone who is over the limit.
In Georgia, the testing process is an older one. For decades, medical professionals have been able to detect the metabolites left behind in the human body after someone consumes marijuana and breaks down the active compounds they ingested. Those metabolites can stay in someone’s body and result in a failed drug test for up to a month after the last time they used marijuana.
In cases involving people who are frequent, heavy users and who have high body fat percentages, it may be possible to fail drug tests for more than a month after the last time they used the substance. This means drivers in Georgia that have consumed marijuana in the last few weeks could potentially be at risk of a drugged driving charge even though they are perfectly sober at the wheel.
One defense strategy could start with that science
Someone accused of DUI marijuana in Georgia will obviously want to avoid a conviction that could cost them their license and damage their reputation. Understanding why you failed a drug test despite knowing you were sober at the wheel can help you start planning the appropriate defense strategy to fight your charges.
Understanding state procedures can help those accused of violating drug laws in Georgia.