Cannabinoids are one of seven categories of drugs that Drug Recognition Experts look for in a driving under the influence evaluation. This article discusses the effects and signs of cannabinoid drug use.
The cannabinoid drugs include marijuana, hashish, and oils.
Drug Recognition Experts are officers trained to determine if a driver is impaired by drugs. The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) looks for signs of drug use and impairment and then makes a guess about which type of drug a person may have used.
The DREs have divided commonly used drugs into seven categories, one of which is cannabis. Each category of drugs produces different side effects and signs of use. The DRE will ask a driver to perform a series of tests, and then performs an evaluation of the driver.
The results of the test are used by the DRE to guess which type of drug a driver used (if they don’t already know from admissions or a search).
What Behaviors of Clues Indicate Cannabis Use?
- Marked reddening of the conjunctive (red eyes)
- Odor of marijuana
- Marijuana debris in mouth
- Body tremors
- Increased appetite (munchies)
- Relaxed inhibitions
- Possible paranoia
- Impaired perception of time and sitance
- Eyelid tremors
- Elevated tastebuds
- Rebound dilation
What are the Signs of Cannabis Use?
Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – None
Vertical Gaze Nystagmus – None
Lack of Convergence – Present
Pupil Size – Dilated. Possible same size
Reaction to Light – Normal
Pulse Rate – Up
Blood Pressure – Up
Body Temperature – Normal
Muscle Tone – Normal
Signs of overdose – DREs says fatigue and paranoia, though overdose is rare
Time of Drug Effects
- 2 -3 hours. According to DRE, impairment may last up to 24 hours without awareness of effects
Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis
Cannabis is currently a schedule I substance. This means operating a vehicle with any amount of cannabis in your system is illegal. The charge is called Operating with a Schedule I Substance. However, this law does not apply to medical marijuana patients. To violate the OWI law, a medical marijuana patient must be “under the influence” of marijuana, meaning the patient’s ability to drive a car in a normal manner must be substantially lessened.
It should be noted that voters in Michigan will decide whether to allow the legal recreational use of marijuana in 2018. If marijuana use is legal, then all drivers, not just medical marijuana patients, must be under the influence of marijuana to get in trouble for driving while high.
Sam Bernstein is a Defense Attorney in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.
ArborYpsi Law is located at 4158 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48108.