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A Southern California college student accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana recently beat the charges, convincing members of the jury that a blood THC level of eight nanograms per milliliter (8 ng/ml) didn’t mean she was too impaired to drive safely.

The case throws into doubt the applicability of per se standards for cannabis impairment while driving, including Washington state’s limit of 5 ng/ml which passed as a part of legalization there under Initiative 502.

Nine of 12 members of the hung jury voted for acquittal of the USC student, who faced charges for driving while under the influence of marijuana (People v. Gibson, Case #12nm00610). Drugged driving has been an increasingly prominent topic as legislators take steps to clarify laws pertaining to driving while under the influence of drugs while defense attorneys argue the state’s ability to accurately prove a driver’s intoxication.

The defendant, a senior at USC majoring in Psychology, was accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana in violation of California law, VC 23152 (a) on December 16, 2011. According to court documents, she had approximately 8 ng/ml of active THC in her blood at the time of her arrest.

Attorney Randy Collins: "We were able to convince the majority of the jury that our client's ability to drive was not impaired" [PRWeb]

Attorney Randy Collins:
“We were able to convince the majority of the jury that our client’s ability to drive was not impaired”
[PRWeb]

The prosecution argued that she failed her field sobriety tests and was impaired at the time of driving while her criminal defense attorneys argued that the marijuana in her system did not impair her ability to make safe driving maneuvers. Her defense attorney, Randy Collins of the law firm MacGregor & Collins, submitted evidence that demonstrated his client could operate a motor vehicle with the same caution characteristic of a sober person, according to court documents.

Attorney Collins challenged the subjective nature of the field sobriety tests, which he alleges are based primarily on a police officer’s observations. Additionally, attorney Collins presented evidence that 8 ng/ml of THC in the blood stream does not establish impairment.

“There is a common belief that the use of marijuana impairs a person’s ability to drive, but our research has found that the use of marijuana effects different people in very different ways,” Collins said. “Since there is no THC breathalyzer or other on-site detection device to determine whether the person in question has recently consumed marijuana, or is currently under the influence of marijuana, a tremendous amount of faith is placed on an officer’s ability to objectively evaluate results from field sobriety tests.

“We were able to convince the majority of the jury that our client’s ability to drive was not impaired, and then had a respected physician come to his own conclusion that he personally did not believe that our client’s ability to drive was effected by her marijuana use,” Collins said. “Although the case ended in a hung jury, the prosecutor has recommended that the case is not tried again.”

 

  • Timothy Babcock

    A victory for the good guys!

  • Susan 530

    Our own endocannabanoid system can cause anyone to test between 0-15 nanograms even if you have never ingested cannabis… these tests by law enforcement are a farce… its like testing for hormones, your body makes endocannabanoids, how can they put such a low limit.
    At this rate even granny who never smoked can test positive.

  • Zac

    If the legislatures won’t change these ridiculous drug laws, We The People can.. through jury nullification. If juries refuse to convict, the laws become useless.

  • Medicinal Man

    I was pulled over in California back in the 80s. My aclohol level was only .07 under the legal limit. The officer then said I had to take a urine test. I asked to see the paperwork and I had a choice of two of three. One was a blood test. I picked the blood test and he was ticked. Turned out if your very fit marijuana or at least at that time detectable in blood was 30 minutes or so. He said it would take an hour because no nurse on site. The point is always take the blood test. I benched 500lbs and had a fat percentage of around 8%. So the lawyer was absolutely correct that cannabis acts differntly in each individual.

  • clint

    Police are not necessarily the ‘bad guys.’ They’re just doing their job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/danrathernot Dan Rathernot

    most awesome.!

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheeScooter Scott Watkins

    But there IS a road side analyzer for THC. It was created almost a year ago, and has already passed the standards needed to verify that it in fact works correctly. So why is this information and device being ignored?

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheeScooter Scott Watkins

    I’m sorry, but that is not what they test. Active THC is not a cannabinoid. You are confusing testing for CBDs ( as in job urine analysis ) with testing for active THC-Delta-9, which is not a cannabinoid.

  • Alexa

    The attorney should go to grammar school again. it’s “AFFECTS” not “effects”

    “There is a common belief that the use of marijuana impairs a person’s ability to drive, but our research has found that the use of marijuana *effects different people in very different ways,”

  • Paul Sanders

    They’re first job is to defend the Constitution.

  • Paul Sanders

    David gets it!

  • Lairbair

    I’ve worked within law enforcement communications for the past 22 years and retired two years ago.

    I’ve been reading a lot about the legal use of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado.

    The current criteria for over the limit of THC, THC-COOH, is >5ng/ mL within blood, unless the laws have changed recently.

    Lets drop the THC-COOH (sounds kind a like a train chugging noise) part of the drug test.

    The THC-COOH part causes many a decent hard working individuals, who smoke on occasion, to be fired from their jobs after having smoked a “number” 30 days or more prior to a drug test.

    How many employers fire individuals with next day hangovers? Excess BAC levels can still be detected the day after and current laws are still in effect.

    Lets concentrate on the current levels of THC, not THC-COOH in the blood to establish “NG” levels over the limit, liken to that of BAC levels.

    I’ve known a “few” individuals over the past 68 years of my like that are college grads and skilled trade folk who have and still have their jobs for more than 20+ years with the same employer and still smoke on
    occasion.

    I think it’s time to simplify THC level testing and concentrate on the THC and not THC-COOH.

    I welcome your comments and observations.

  • Tim Babcook

    Bottom line is, NEVER EVER voluntarily submit blood, urine, breath, saliva, etc. in any DUI situation. They will threaten lengthy Driver’s License suspension and being “frowned upon” by judges (thus, jury option too), and do everything they can to obtain the data to make their police quotas (when there’s peace, they always gotta shake the tree). The old guards will expire soon, finally allowing new sensible generations…to make sound political decisions.

  • James

    I like cannabis but saying that it affects you differently from others can easily said about alcohol so it seems like a poor argument. I would stick to the fact that cannabis gives you a cautious mood while alcohol give you a “ah F^&@ it mood” So the drunk blows the red light, The sober blows the yellow, The stoner stops @ red.

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