What does “Marijuana Legalization” REALLY Mean?

With more and more states beginning to make the shift towards legalizing marijuana for both medicinal and recreational uses, it’s worth taking a moment to understand what that actually means. While there are many things that are legal, such as alcohol for instance, there is still a significant amount of restrictions and control placed on that subject, and marijuana is no exception. Because of this, it’s important to understand exactly what it means for you, especially regarding the legal ramifications and potential for punishments.

Possession of Marijuana

States are setting strict guidelines regarding the amount of marijuana you can possess at any given time. In terms of medicinal purposes, a permit is also required for you to be allowed to legally possess marijuana to begin with. These permits aren’t transferrable (often issued by the medical doctor that is prescribing medicinal marijuana as part of your treatment) and the permits aren’t necessarily valid in other states, even if that state also has been legalized. One of the most important aspects to understand is that it is against federal law to transport marijuana across state borders, if you’re caught doing so, you’re not only facing criminal charges, but potentially felony charges as well.

Marijuana and the Workplace

A commonly asked question is how the legalization of marijuana can affect your job. Even in states where marijuana is legalized, there are no federal statutes that project your job if you test positive for THC. If you’re state has just legalized marijuana, it’s important to understand how this can affect your job before you decide to imbibe. While recreational purposes will more than likely carry a different set of rules to follow, when it comes to medicinal purposes for marijuana, it begins to fall in a grey area, so make sure you understand company policy before it becomes an issue.

DUIs and Marijuana

One of the most important things to consider is what happens to DUI policy when legal marijuana is involved. Many states have a set of guidelines in place regarding controlled substances as they apply to a DUI, so it’s important to be aware of the guidelines set by your state. Being charged with a DUI, regardless of what the substance is, is a serious offense that carries steep fines, a suspension of your license, as well as the potential for time in jail.

As it stands now, if you’re pulled over for the suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs in the state of Maryland, the officer will call in a DRE (Drug Recognition Expert.) A DRE can require a blood sample which will then be sent to a lab for processing. The lab isn’t testing for Hydroxy THC (the substance found in your body when you’re under the influence of marijuana) but instead of testing for carboxy THC. The problem is that carboxy THC isn’t indicative of being under the influence, but remains in your body for up to a month after you’ve imbibed marijuana. So even if you’re charged with driving under the influence, because they’re not testing for hydroxy THC, you could be charged and convicted even though you weren’t under the influence at the time you were pulled over. If you find yourself in this circumstance, then it’s important to hire a DUI defense attorney immediately. Because of the scrutiny that is being placed on marijuana as it’s legalization is increasing nationwide, many eyes will be on the courts, especially for DUI cases concerning the use of marijuana.

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+Andrew is one of the leading DUI and criminal defense attorneys in both the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. He blogs about Maryland DUI law on the Alpert Schreyer blog and has been asked to appear on national television to offer his legal opinion on high-profile criminal cases.

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