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Michigan Court of Appeals Holds Michigan Operating With the Presence of Drugs Includes Medical Marijuana

The Michigan Court of Appeals recently decided the case of People v. Koon. In the case, the defendant was a medical marijuana patient who was stopped by the police while driving. A blood test determined that he had active THC in his body. He was charged with Operating With the Presence of Drugs (OWPD), a crime that says a driver can be arrested with the presence of Cocaine or any Schedule 1 drug in his or her body. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug in Michigan. Therefore, the issue in the case was whether a person can be charged with OWPD for active marijuana in the body even if they legally consumed the marijuana as a medical marijuana patient.

The Michigan Court of Appeals held that even though a person legally used marijuana as a medical marijuana patient in Michigan, he or she can still be charged with OWPD if there is active THC in his or her system. This is true regardless of whether a person is driving in an impaired manner. The court decided that the mere presence of weed / marijuana / pot in the blood is conduct enough to convict a defendant. This is otherwise known as zero tolerance.

Understanding the Consequences

As criminal defense attorneys, we understand the consequences that can come from a conviction of OWPD, drunk driving, drugged driving and drug crimes. Penalties vary depending on how many prior drugged driving offenses a person has on their record, but can include penalties like incarceration, probation, community service, random alcohol and drug screening, driver’s license sanctions, and the payment of fines.

Any time you are dealing with a drunk or drugged driving issue, you should immediately contact an attorney who practices drug law in Michigan.

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