Recently, a three-judge panel on the state of appeals court sided with a Traverse City prosecutor regarding a criminal case against Rodney Koon, a medical marijuana user who was stopped in 2010 for exceeding the speed limit by nearly 30 mph. Koon admitted he had smoked marijuana six hours earlier, and a blood test revealed the drug in his body.
More than 130,000 people possess state-issued cards allowing them to use medical marijuana to alleviate pain and symptoms of chronic illness, so the use of marijuana by those individuals is not a crime. But to use the drug — which can impair one's ability to operate a vehicle — then get behind the wheel, can be.
This only makes sense.
Prescription drugs such as oxycodone and alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, have been playing a much larger role in traffic crashes during recent years. The state of Florida, for example, recorded an 18 percent increase in crashes related to those two drugs alone in 2011. And those are only two of many prescription drugs that have labels alerting users of the dangers of operating machinery or a vehicle while taking the medication.
The issue is no longer if pot should be a medical prescription; it's about the responsibility in regards to the affect of that drug. Under our state’s “zero tolerance” law, even medical marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 substance when it impairs one's driving.
According to the law, driving under the influence of certain drugs — even legal drugs — is illegal.
The state court of appeals stated medical marjiuana “does not permit all types of medical use of marijuana under all circumstances.” Such as operating a motor vehicle.
“There are people who believe that the medical marijuana law allows them to medicate and then drive.”
It's not OK, Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko told the Associated Press last year. In 2005, Olko's department was the first statewide to staff a drug recognition expert looking into the problem of prescription drugs and driving.
We applaud the state court of appeals for its common-sense ruling. When the objective is to create a safer environment on our roads, we all benefit. This ruling provides protection for both the driver as well as others who travel our Michigan roads.