Over the past decade, there has been a shift in society’s attitude towards marijuana. As a result, many states have legalized medical marijuana, decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, and even legalized recreational use of marijuana. According to a recent news report, a 2020 ballot initiative in Arizona seeks to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Often, this raises questions about how Arizona DUI law will be impacted.
Under the new ballot initiative, recreational marijuana would be legalized for adults over the age of 21. The law would regulate where cannabis could be smoked, and also continues to make it illegal to operate a vehicle, boat, or airplane while “impaired even to the slightest degree.”
How the criminal justice system answers the question of when someone is “impaired” by marijuana is going to be critical to the fair enforcement of the state’s DUI laws. Even for a casual smoker, marijuana can stay in their system for weeks after use. However, any mind-altering effects of the drug wear off after just a few hours. Thus, it is possible that someone could smoke marijuana at night, get up to go to work, get pulled over on the way for an unrelated traffic offense, and be arrested for DUI. Certainly, this is not the intent of lawmakers who hoped to allow the responsible use of marijuana and only criminalize those who drive while actually impaired.