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Arizona appeals court rules medical marijuana no defense to DUI charge
Arizona appeals court rules medical marijuana no defense to DUI charge

[JURIST] The Arizona Court of Appeals [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Tuesday that the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) [text] does not protect legal medical marijuana users from being charged with driving under the influence (DUI). The court reviewed the appeal submitted by Travis Darrah, a legal medical marijuana license holder, and decided the Arizona Revised Statutes allowed the court to charge Darrah with a DUI based on the presence of THC in his blood irrespective of the AMMA exception [text]. Judge Kent Cattani, in a concurring opinion, upheld the finding in this specific case because the appellant failed to provide evidence that he was unimpaired by his legal medical marijuana use, but stated that the AMMA does provide medical marijuana users a valid defense to a DUI charge:

The Arizona Supreme Court thus did not squarely address the carve-out exception for authorized users under § 36-2802(D). Under this carve-out exception, in my view, an authorized user cannot be convicted under § 28-1381(A)(3) if he or she establishes that the amount of THC or marijuana metabolite in the blood was in insufficient concentration to cause impairment.

The majority opinion relied on precedent and did not consider the language of the AMMA exception to bar Darrah’s conviction.

Evolving public sentiment against marijuana criminalization and its medical use [JURIST backgrounder] has led to more legal support [MPP website] in the US in recent months. In July US Representative Scott Perry (R-PA) [official website] introduced a bill [JURIST report] to legalize cannabidiol (CBD) oil, or marijuana extract, which has been shown to treat seizures in children suffering from epilepsy. Also in July New York Governor Andrew Cuomo [official website] signed [JURIST report] the Compassionate Care Act into law, making New York the twenty-third state to legalize medical marijuana.