One of the recent frustrations of police forces in Portage County is the lack of a reliable test for marijuana. As the legalization of marijuana use spreads, police may spot a driver whose behavior behind the wheel appears to be suspicious. If the driver is stopped, the police officer can require that the driver take a breath test to determine the amount of alcohol in his or her blood stream. If the breath test is negative, i. e., it shows a blood alcohol level lower than the state maximum of 0.08%, the officer has no way to test for the presence of THC, the intoxicating substance in marijuana. That situation may soon change.
The marijuana–THC problem
As almost everyone knows, the alcohol in beer, wine and liquor is the substance that adversely affects a person’s behavior. Alcohol can be easily and accurately detected by taking a sample of a person’s breath or blood. In marijuana, the intoxicating chemical is called THC, and it cannot be easily or accurately detected. A number of companies have been working to develop a device that would detect THC, and a number of them are reported to close to developing a marketable product.
Even if THC breathalyzers prove to be practical, both the courts and state legislatures must set the limit for THC intoxication before such devices could be used as evidence in court. Meanwhile, police officers will be required to rely on their training to observe a person’s behavior to spot marijuana intoxication.
Current state of affairs
The current state of development for a THC detector will offer many escape hatches to clever attorneys. Anyone who is charged with driving while intoxicated based upon the results of a THC detector should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney for advice. A knowledgeable lawyer can review the evidence, exploit flaws in the THC detection process, and, when appropriate, negotiate an appropriate plea agreement with the prosecution.