Rosenblum Schwartz & Fry

Questions loom in wake of MO medical pot law’s passage

Missouri voters approved legislation last autumn providing for a medical marijuana program in the state.

The new law hardly came with a proven blueprint for success attached. Indeed, and as steadily recurring news stories indicate, the proverbial kinks are still being worked out. The regulatory scheme is multilayered and complex. Time will tell.

One recent news piece spotlights a singular concern relevant to the approved use of medical pot by individuals with select health concerns.

That is their behind-the-wheel behavior.

Actually, the focus is a bit more specific than that, to wit: Regulators and law enforcers want to know how to accurately assess if/when medical marijuana users are driving while impaired. Moreover, they want to spread the word that “serious consequences” will result for drivers so disposed.

Authorities can readily spotlight relevant statistics to underscore the public dangers posed by driving-while-high motorists. The Missouri Safety Center notes, for example, that nearly 80 fatal car crashes occurring in Missouri in a recent year involved drivers with marijuana in their systems.

It is certainly no big secret that pot-linked tests for impairment are not conceded the same degree of accuracy and consistent measurement as are blood alcohol content readouts produced by breathalyzers (concededly, even many of those have turned out false results).

Enforcement officials stress, though, that such reality does not diminish their base ability to detect marijuana-linked impairment in drivers.

“We look in their eyes,” says one Missouri police officer.

That might logically be a good place to start, although it hardly seems arguable that such an analysis comes with more than a modicum of inherent subjectivity.

Given the rollout of the new law and present developments, it seems likely that police-driver interactions in Missouri focused on alleged pot-linked impairment will markedly increase.

The public unquestionably has a compelling interest in knowing that unsafe drivers are identified and removed from streets and highways.

On the other hand, drivers who are legitimately entitled to use medical marijuana have a tandem right to be immune from police action that alleges criminal conduct based on a subjective or otherwise arbitrary analysis.

Questions or concerns regarding any behind-the-wheel criminal charge in Missouri can be directed to a proven team of St. Louis defense attorneys.

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