Since recreational marijuana for citizens over the age of 21 passed in Michigan, a lot of patients are wondering, why should I get or keep my medical marijuana card? Here in this post, we consider the Legal reasons to get your Michigan medical marijuana card.
First things first, “drinking and driving” and “drugged driving” are both illegal, extremely dangerous. You should never operate heavy machinery or a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – this includes cannabis. In Michigan, drivers caught driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could be charged with Operating While Intoxicated (“OWI”) or Operating While Visibly Impaired (“OWVI”). Michigan drivers could also face OWI or OWVI charges if found to have ANY AMOUNT of a Schedule 1 substance in their bloodstream. To be clear, Marijuana is presently classified as a Schedule 1 substance.
Medical vs Recreational Laws in Michigan
Under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (“MMMA” – Medical) and the Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act (“MRTMA” – Recreational),
- Possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana flower and 12 marijuana plants
- Internally possess of marijuana
Individuals may NOT:
- Operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana
- Sell cannabis, unless the “sale” is from Caregiver to Patient under the MMMA
Although it may seem that “Internally possess” may provide legal cover to recreational users for having THC (Δ-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol) or its metabolites in their system, it, in fact, does not. Here is a real-world example to illustrate this point:
John Doe (“JD” for short) is a Michigan resident who let his MMJ card expire when a recreational dispensary opened near his home. One day, JD is backing out of his parking space at his local grocery store. In a hurry to get home before his ice cream melts, he backs out aggressively, failing to check his blind spots appropriately. Just as he slams on the gas, a young grocery store employee collecting shopping carts for return to the store crosses behind him. The unfortunate grocery store worker is pinned between the grocery carts and the bumper of JD’s bumper. The young, unfortunate grocery store worker is injured.
Law enforcement, who were already on-site investigating suspected shoplifting, swoop in like SEAL Team 6 raiding a terrorist compound. JD is detained and questioned. Although he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time, law enforcement notice that JD’s eyes are bloodshot, prompting suspicion by law enforcement that he may not be entirely sober. JD is adamant that his bloodshot eyes are due to his seasonal allergies. Law enforcement doesn’t believe him.
JD is given a more thorough “visual inspection”, then his car and person are searched. He is then taken into custody under suspicion of Operating While Intoxicated. It is at this point that JD wishes that he had kept his mmj card active. At the police station, law enforcement draw blood from JD to test for drugs. His test is positive for THC metabolites. Given JD’s bloodshot eyes, reckless operation of his vehicle and THC in his bloodstream, JD is formally charged with Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury.
While JD was at fault for hitting the grocery store worker, that is clear. A moving violation causing injury is a misdemeanor in Michigan, but can result in fines of up to $500, points on your license, driver’s license suspension, and up to 93 days in jail. The fact that JD had THC in his system made the situation so much worse. Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury in Michigan is a felony carrying fines of $1,000-$5,000, forfeiture of the vehicle, mandatory vehicle immobilization, and up to five years in prison. If JD had his mmj card, the worst of these charges and penalties could have been avoided.