TULSA, Oklahoma – Attorneys in Oklahoma are raising concerns about the prosecution of marijuana use while driving, five years after the state legalized medical marijuana. Sabah Khalaf, a defense attorney specializing in DUI cases, argues that the law needs to be updated when it comes to driving under the influence of medical marijuana.
Since the legalization of medical marijuana in Oklahoma, many individuals have turned to cannabis as a solution for pain and anxiety management. However, Khalaf believes that the law has not kept up with the changing landscape. Law enforcement officers report frequently encountering individuals driving under the influence of marijuana, with some mistakenly believing that possessing a medical marijuana card grants them permission to drive while high.
The current challenge lies in the lack of a clear threshold for determining marijuana impairment while driving. Unlike alcohol, which has a legal limit of 0.08 blood alcohol concentration, THC levels do not have an established threshold in Oklahoma. Colorado, on the other hand, has set a threshold of five nanograms for marijuana impairment. Without a way to quantify THC levels, law enforcement officers struggle to prove impairment and rely on field sobriety tests, primarily designed for alcohol-related cases.
Khalaf points out that a blood test showing positive results for THC is not sufficient evidence of impairment, as THC can remain in an individual’s system for an extended period. He emphasizes the need for education among prosecutors, judges, and fellow lawyers regarding the unique complexities of DUI cases involving marijuana. While progress has been made, there is still work to be done.
District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler reinforces that charges related to marijuana impairment are not solely based on THC levels in the blood. Other factors, such as erratic driving behavior and admissions of marijuana consumption followed by driving, contribute to the case against an individual.
As Oklahoma grapples with the implications of legalized medical marijuana, the question of how to effectively prosecute driving under the influence of marijuana remains unresolved. The issue highlights the need for clear guidelines to ensure road safety while respecting the rights of medical marijuana patients.
In summary, attorneys in Oklahoma, including Sabah Khalaf, are advocating for changes in the prosecution of marijuana use while driving. The absence of a clear threshold for marijuana impairment and the challenges of quantifying THC levels make it difficult to definitively prove a driver’s impairment. Despite efforts to educate legal professionals, much work is needed to address this issue.