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How Michigan Police Test for Marijuana

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In 2019, The State of Michigan began accepting license applications for adult-use marijuana establishments. However, local law enforcement started tackling issues ranging from complaints about marijuana’s smell to preparing for an “increase” in high driving far before then. This article explores how Michigan police test for marijuana, the junk science behind it, how marijuana differs from alcohol, and how to fight marijuana charges you may be facing.

While some police departments are taking a “hands-off” approach (not making arrests for marijuana consumption related charges), most are not.

Facing a DUI or a marijuana DUI? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

Marijuana During Traffic Stops

Michigan State Police troopers are saying that marijuana legalization is making their jobs difficult, especially during traffic stops when officers can smell it.

These troopers say many prosecutors haven’t made it clear how law enforcement should handle each situation.

“We come across a lot of kids that are under 21 that have possession of it and obviously, that’s in violation so we seize it and go through the process that way,” Michigan State Police Sgt. Andrew Jeffrey said to WWMT-3. “But when we come across people that are 21 and older and actually have it legally, that’s where it’s kind of hard to deal with it in that aspect.”

However, Lt. Michael Shaw of the Michigan State Police told the Detroit Free Press that marijuana legalization “isn’t a big deal” regarding enforcement.

“The fallacy that there’s going to be all this marijuana out there is just that, a fallacy. It’s always been out there.”

Even now that marijuana is legalized, police officers still rely on “junk science,” such as green tongue, to arrest and convict drugged drivers, which is “scientifically untrue.”

WDIV-Channel 4 posted an article about the significant increase of drugged driving arrests made by officers in Washtenaw County, including marijuana.

The article states that this increase could be attributed to the extensive training provided to officers.

One of these programs, the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE), is credited for improved detection of drugged drivers.

However, ARIDE has a number of problems with its curriculum, specifically how Michigan police test for marijuana.

  • Tests are sometimes improperly administered. Field sobriety tests, breath and blood tests should be performed in substantial compliance with how they’re taught. Failure to do so renders the tests meaningless.
  • Officers enter false information into police reports to make their case look stronger. Perhaps the person just isn’t driving impaired, but the officer doesn’t want to be proven wrong.
  • The science behind ARIDE tests isn’t proven. Therefore, some “clues” provided by these tests hold zero value towards guilt or innocence.

How Marijuana Differs from Alcohol While Driving

Additionally, our founder and Principal Attorney Barton Morris contributed to Michigan’s Impaired Driving Safety Commission’s 2019 report that THC levels don’t correlate to impaired driving.

As Michigan’s only ACS Forensic Lawyer-Scientist and the only criminal defense lawyer consulted for this report, said that:

“Levels of THC in the blood are not an accurate measure of the level of intoxication, as is the case with blood alcohol levels.”

THC stays in one’s body far longer than alcohol, even after the peak high has occurred.

This is because of THC’s absorption and distribution process, along with behavioral and cognitive effects, differs greatly than alcohol’s effect on the body.

Finally, if your attorney cannot expertly tell you how Michigan police test for marijuana, and explain the strategy for attacking the case against you, you need a new attorney. Immediately.

Facing any sort of DUI? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.

Studies have also suggested that people impaired by marijuana drive more slowly, leave greater space between cars and take fewer risks behind the wheel.

In general, “stoned” drivers possess greater reaction time and driving abilities and far less less vehicle crashes than those driving under the influence of alcohol.

How to Fight My Marijuana Impaired Driving Charge

Very few attorneys have taken the time to learn this new area of DUI law.

Our team of attorneys, paralegals, and other support staff takes the time to attend numerous ARIDE seminars to learn just what the police are being taught.

Most importantly, we have fought these cases and won.

While we definitely encourage safe driving and discourage smoking marijuana while driving, we do realize that the lack of understanding surrounding marijuana’s effect on driving can lead to wrongful arrests.

Don’t trust your DUI charge, whether drugs or drunk driving, to someone who simply dabbles in this area of law.

As you can see, the police actively train and learn new techniques everyday. You should expect that your lawyer is learning and training just as hard.

Facing drug or DUI charges? Unhappy with your current attorney? Request a free consultation now.


Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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Barton Morris
Barton Morris has been providing high-quality legal representation in the area of state and federal criminal defense for more than 20 years.
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