Proposed California Law To Punish Marijuana Smokers Who Drive Even When Not Impaired

Just when you thought things were getting better for marijuana and its users in California, the battle takes a turn for the dumb. According to the L.A. Weekly’s Smoking Marijuana a Month Ago Could Get You a DUI Today Under Proposed Law, Los Angeles-area Assembywoman Norma J Torres is working on a bill that will make it a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) for a person to drive with ANY amount of marijuana in their blood system. The law does not seek to punish people with objective symptoms of being under the influence of marijuana (as is required now), it targets anyone who drives who has any metabolite of marijuana in their system. Marijuana can stay in a person’s system for weeks, a month, and sometimes longer than a month. This law would make it a DUI to drive if you smoked marijuana a month ago.

Assembywoman Torres is silent on how that would affect the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana users in California who lawfully take the drug at the recommendation of a doctor and are dispensed it and consume it lawfully. While Californians overwhelmingly support the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes, 71% according to the Wall Street Journals’s Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana Forms Campaign Committee, this law would effectively criminalize all medical marijuana users who drive. A patient who has been advised by their doctor to consume medical marijuana on a regular basis could never drive without being “under the influence,” even if not impaired.

Some law enforcement support the law. Others, including Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), have come out against it, urging Torres to withdraw the legislation immediately.

This law serves no legitimate purpose and will not deter DUIs. It seeks to punish something this is not inherently dangerous and that public overwhelmingly supports. Hopefully Torres’ bill dies an early death.


Lauren K Johnson represents clients in all kinds of marijuana cases including possession, cultivation, distribution, transportation, sale and DUI. Contact us for more info.