To understand how
marijuana consumption impacts one's ability to operate a vehicle, it is helpful
to know how the body processes marijuana. When marijuana is consumed,
the chemical compound THC quickly manifests in the bloodstream. This is
the psychoactive drug in marijuana, responsible for the "high"
that the consumer feels.
Eventually, the body's metabolic process changes the chemical makeup of the THC,
which becomes THC's active metabolite: Hydroxy-THC. At this point,
one may feel slightly affected, but probably will not display signs of
impairment. At the third stage, the body metabolizes the Hydroxy-THC into
THC's secondary and inactive metabolite: Carboxy-THC. This metabolite
is totally inactive and causes no cognitive impairment, but can remain
in the blood for up to thirty days. The rate at which the body metabolizes
THC into Hydroxy-THC and finally Carboxy-THC depends on the frequency
of consumption, the amount and potency of marijuana consumed, and the
Although studies suggest that it is safe for drivers with a small amount
of Hydroxy-THC in their blood to operate a vehicle, many states (including
Georgia) have adopted a zero-tolerance policy for any amount of THC or
its metabolites in a driver's blood. Georgia law dictates that
"[a] person shall not drive...any moving vehicle while…there
is any amount of marijuana…present in the person's blood or
urine, or both, including [its] metabolites and derivatives."
So, draconian as it may sound, one could face conviction for
driving under the influence of marijuana if any THC metabolites are found in his or her blood (remember,
the metabolite Carboxy-THC remains in the bloodstream for up to thirty days).
If you are accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, your best
bet for a favorable resolution is to
retain an experienced attorney to diligently advocate for you. Your attorney can advise you regarding
whether and when to consider submitting to a blood test or urinalysis
to detect marijuana metabolites in your blood. Speak with an attorney
who can offer expert advice and put you in the best position possible
to defend your DUI charge(s).
Contact The Schneider Law Firm today if you have been arrested under allegations of
driving while influenced by marijuana.