Medical Marijuana: What It Means for Georgia Drivers

Last week, Governor Deal signed into law a new bill that expands the number of Georgians who are able to legally use cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions.  Click here to read to full text of the bill as it was signed into law.  Cannabis oil has been legal for a very small number of Georgia residents since 2015, including those suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.  Now, individuals with AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, autism, epidermolysis bullosa, peripheral neuropathy and Tourette’s syndrome may also possess up to 20 ounces of the oil.  Individuals seeking to possess the oil under the law must register with the State.  According to the legislation, the level of THC in the legal oil must be 5% or lower.  THC is the chemical in marijuana that results in the “high.”

So what does this mean for Georgia drivers and Georgia DUI Attorneys?  Very little, actually.  You can read my full analysis of Georgia DUI Marijuana law here.  Essentially, Georgia courts have recognized for some time that legal users of marijuana existed — in the 1999 case of Love v. State the Georgia Supreme Court cited the fact that medical marijuana was already legal in some states, and recreational use was legal in some countries.  Therefore, it reasoned, there likely were individuals in Georgia who had marijuana metabolites in their blood, but who were not illegal users and potentially not impaired drivers.  As a result, it held unconstitutional the section of Georgia’s DUI statute that criminalized driving while having any marijuana metabolite in the blood.  Since then, Georgia prosecutors have been forced to rely on the “Less Safe” section of the DUI law, which requires them to prove that an individual is a less safe driver as a result of his or her consumption of marijuana.  This is the case whether the driver is a legal or an illegal user of marijuana products.

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