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Naples Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Medical Marijuana > Driving Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana

Driving Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana

In November of 2017, 72% of voters in Florida decided to legalize medical marijuana. One vote is not going to change the process overnight. This is going to be a long process, and although it’s only been about 6 months we have already seen the various roadblocks lawmakers face because of the State versus Federal law predicament. Lee County placed a moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries, with Bonita Springs becoming the first city in 2018 to lift its ban.

While local governments work through their plans and contingencies to deal with medical marijuana and how it will become a part of their communities, residents need to contend with their potential personal use of the plant and how it will affect their everyday lives.

One question that has continually arisen from the medical marijuana debate is whether drivers will be charged with DUI if they’re under the influence of medically-prescribed marijuana and then get pulled over for reckless driving. The answer is, yes.

According to both federal and Florida law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance, so possession of it is still illegal. Amendment 2 removes the criminal or civil sanctions under Florida law for the medical use of marijuana by a qualified patient, caregiver, or physician. Amendment 2 does not erase violations of federal law, nor does it protect you for any non-medical use, possession, or production of marijuana in violation of Florida law.

There are 2 ways lawmakers have to prove you are under the influence of a controlled substance. One way is to prove that the driver’s breath/blood alcohol level was above 0.08, which is done via breathalyzer or blood test. The second way is to prove that the driver’s normal facilities are impaired, which is done using field sobriety tests.

Florida law states that there is no allowance for defense, exception, or immunity from arrest and conviction for DUI while under the influence of any physician-prescribed controlled substance. This would include controlled substances such as prescription painkillers and even blood thinners.

Additionally, because marijuana is still considered a schedule 1 controlled substance under both Florida and federal law, a person driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle could be arrested and convicted if it were proven that their normal faculties were impaired by that use.

Even if you’re legally prescribed medical marijuana, know the risks of using it. Don’t drive after you’ve used it, or if you’re going to take it when you need to go somewhere, find a friend to carpool with. It’s important to understand the law, especially as it changes at such a quick pace.

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