Arizona prosecutors: Smoking weed weeks earlier enough for DUI charge

By David Edwards
Wednesday, November 6, 2013 13:14 EDT
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["Marijuana Smoke Consumer - Young Lady" on Shutterstock]
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Prosecutors in one Arizona county argued on Tuesday that people who smoked marijuana days or even weeks earlier could be charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

Deputy Maricopa County Attorney Susan Luder argued before the Arizona Supreme Court that the county had acted properly in charging a man with for driving under the influence after finding Carboxy-THC, a secondary metabolite of marijuana, in his blood after stopping him for a traffic violation.

According to Capitol Media Services reporter Howard Fischer, Luder did not dispute her own expert witness who agreed that the presence of Carboxy-THC did not necessarily mean that someone was impaired.

But she argued that the state Legislature — which outlawed driving with any trace of Carboxy-THC — had the authority to make the law even if it was not fair to strip someone of their license 30 days after they last smoked marijuana.

In the case of the driver who had Carboxy-THC in his system after being giving a traffic citation, a judge initially threw out the DUI charge. The Court of Appeals then ruled that the law must be “must be interpreted broadly.”

Attorney Michael Alarid warned that the ruling would lead to the “absurd result” that anyone with the slightest amount of Carboxy-THC could be banned from driving, including the 40,000 Arizonans who legally use medical marijuana and thousands of visitors from neighboring states where marijuana has been decriminalized.

“Let’s assume that scientific testing develops and you can find Carboxy-THC remaining in the system for a year, does that have any effect on your position here today?” Chief Justice Rebecca Berch asked Luder on Tuesday. “Let’s now assume that it’s five years that you can test THC levels — Carboxy-THC remaining in the system, does there come a point where the statute lacks a rational basis?”

Luder insisted that Berch’s questions were not based in reality.

It was not clear when the justices would rule on the case.

Listen to the audio below from KJZZ, broadcast Nov. 6, 2013.


[Photo: woman smoking marijuana neutral via Shutterstock]

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
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