Legal Limit for THC in Michigan Drivers? Proposed Bill Says “Yes”
A newly proposed bill in Michigan would set a legal limit for the amount of THC in a driver's system. However, there are serious concerns from both the community and experts.
Long before marijuana was legal in any form (in my lifetime), I found myself in my college sociology class discussing the pros and cons of the legalization of said drug. Arguments were brought up about health benefits, how hemp could be used as a less wasteful product for paper, clothing, etc. However, the number one argument that people could not see eye to eye on was...how do you determine how much marijuana can be smoked/ingested before it impairs a person's ability to drive safely?
It's not an easy question to answer. As reported by WXYZ News Channel 7, Rep. Pamela Hornberger of Macomb County has proposed a bill that would set a legal limit for THC in a driver's system to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
How would they test this?
Unlike with breathalyzers, determining the level of THC in someone's system would require a blood test. That has some experts concerned. Norbert Kaminski, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University and 1 of 6 members of the Impaired Driving Safety Commission, explained that,
when a person gets high, THC levels spike and decline quickly within the body and then plateau. Unlike blood-alcohol levels which have a clear correlation.
Kaminski goes on to explain that THC can remain in a person's bloodstream for days after the high has worn off and that it could lead to false convictions.
Marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2018, so why is this bill just being introduced?
Unfortunately, the motivation for the push on this bill stems from a heartbreaking case where a young girl lost her life. Lilly Leas, just over 3 years old, died after her step-grandmother, Nicole Leas, hit her while driving. Nicole was found to have THC in her system. No alcohol or other drugs were detected. The family of Lily says that if this bill had been in place it would have meant justice for their little girl. Instead, Nicole was charged with a misdemeanor.
How is the community reacting?
As you would expect, people are split on the idea of setting a legal driving limit for THC. On WXYZ's Facebook page, comments ranged from strong support to strong opposition:
Michelle M. wrote: Well, I see they found their new cash cow. Also curious how they are going to implement this....cops gonna drive around with a stick em kit or they gonna haul you down to the pokey and stick ya there.
Justin S. commented: The only dumb thing about this is that there is no accurate way to adequately measure this. Until that comes about, then we can have this conversation. Right now research is limited in how we can even define these levels because of how tough it is to do research with marijuana. Its still labeled as a schedule 1 drug. This seems more like a money grab scheme than anything.
On the other side of the argument:
Annette C. said: Under the influence is Under the influence no matter the substance. Please don't tell me no one saw this coming from a mile away.
Tammy R. commented: Yes, it shouldn’t have been passed to buy it legally anyway other then for medical use!
Greg E. wrote: Even though weed is pretty much harmless it should be treated like alcohol and any other medicine and used responsibly. With that being said we need more research on how much weed actually impairs you before we set limits.
Considering the factors that would make accurately determining THC levels in someone's system difficult, I doubt this bill will be passed. But, I've been proven wrong before. Read more about the proposed bill, HB 4727, here.