Florida Needs New Ways to Deal with Driving Under Influence of Marijuana

From Florida lawyer Brian S. Leifert, with the law firm Leifert & Leifert Criminal Defense.

Last year Florida became one of the many states to legalize medical marijuana. While the news is good for those that need the medicine to treat various ailments and conditions that have not responded to traditional medicine, it has posed several problems for both the state, and for law enforcement officers.

One of the biggest issues is that local police departments cannot detect when someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. Although many officers state that they can pick up on cues of drivers that may have just used marijuana, those signs are the same used on drivers under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, it is impossible to tell if someone is impaired by marijuana, or anything at all. And unlike the testing that can be done for alcohol, not all those methods apply to marijuana as well.

In addition, the ‘Drive Baked, Get Busted’ campaign that was rolled out to correspond with legalizing medical marijuana is largely ineffective in the state. This campaign, which is meant to largely target those aged 18 to 34, is not educating this group about the dangers of driving high. Instead the posters, billboards, and newspaper ads that have been published for the campaign have become a joke around the state.

That is not the only problem with the campaign, and it is not even the biggest one. Critics suggest that the campaign is not even intended to educate, as it was touted to be. Instead, it is largely an anti-marijuana campaign, even though it is legal in the state for certain purposes.

Those opposed to the campaign are quick to point out that it makes no mention of medical marijuana, making it seem as though it is really meant to target recreational users. Also by not mentioning the medical purposes of marijuana, advocates are upset that it is still not being recognized for the medicine that it is.

The campaign itself is a bust. It missed out on some major opportunities. In addition to that, there is currently no way for law enforcement officers to detect whether or not someone is driving under the influence. Even when blood and urine tests are taken to detect THC, there is no proof the driver is currently high. The chemical can remain in a person’s system for up to 30 days.

That is a fact. It is also true that a police officer’s instincts are often wrong. And if the state does not determine a better method soon, it may mean that many innocent people are going to be charged of a crime.

Practicing law since 1992, Brian S. Leifert of the law firm Leifert & Leifert Criminal Defense has handled tens of thousands of Criminal and Traffic cases in the state of Florida throughout his legal career. He can be found on Google+ and LinkedIn.

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