The next several years will see many well based challenges to current Utah laws relating to DUIs, THC metabolite and prescription drugs. DUIs that are based on alcohol or prescription drugs are very different animals and attempting to turn a driving with THC metabolite into substantially the same as a DUI in terms of punishment and effect is now very much the wrong road to go down for the State and our court system. THC metabolite is, as many have begun to figure out, body evidence of marijuana having been in the system because metabolite is a product of metabolism of a substance by the body, the footprint of marijuana having once been in the body. It is, and here is the operative and relevant part, pharmacologically inactive: ie. having no effect on the the body or its functions. Why, then did the Legislature pass a law pertaining to metabolite in the body and driving when there is no impact on the body by having that “footprint” in the body. For punitive reasons, because using marijuana was illegal at the time and legislature forbade that anyone should ingest something illegal. The solution: treat it on the same level as a DUI. But, is it the same? We have DUI laws to make the roads safer not to just punish. They are based on the principal that if you have enough alcohol or drugs in your system that you cannot safely operate a vehicle then you should not be driving. Sounds appropriate, correct? But, what if there is no impairment whatsoever from a drug or alcohol, also a drug btw? Isn’t that law a classic case of overreaching? And trying to make a apple into an orange? And what if the marijuana was consumed legally in one of our 4 bordering states, or one of the other 13 states or D.C. and the carrier (interesting term, like a disease but, not) comes into or through Utah but only has metabolite in their system. And a higher court does not see that necessary connection to justify the law in making the roads safer, especially when examined in light of the freedom to move about? Unconstitutional? I don’t know, are many people traveling from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, or Nevada into and through Utah every day? And how about California, Oregon, Washington, and Montana? Maybe just a few.
And how about that disconnect, albeit slightly different, of how does someone know how a prescribed med, that is taken under a physician’s directive and in total compliance with that directive, is going to react in their system. Is there criminal intent? Of course not! But, people are being charged every week in this state, under those very same circumstances with a violation that requires some criminal intent. The challenges will and must be there. Prosecutors must look to their own common sense before bringing these to court. And the legislature needs to revisit these laws every year.