Recreational marijuana in Maine has taken one step further towards becoming a reality. However, Mainers who have been looking forward to this point need to remember that there are still lots of laws that dictate when and where marijuana can be used. One of those legal restrictions is Maine’s law against operating under the influence (OUI).
In the last few hours of the legislative session, lawmakers in Maine approved the rules that would provide the regulatory framework for the state’s upcoming recreational marijuana law. While that law had been approved by voters almost three years ago, the creation of these rules has been a sticking point because they would outline the details of how, when, and where people could enjoy marijuana. The rules also rectified conflicts with other statutes on the books in Maine.
The set of rules that the legislature just passed will now go to the governor’s desk for approval.
One of Maine’s other laws that the new rules for recreational marijuana do not change is 29-A Maine Statute § 2411, which criminalizes driving a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Without an alteration to that statute, Maine’s recreational marijuana law does not change the fact that being stoned can lead to an arrest for OUI.
To make matters worse for Mainers who want to exercise their new rights to smoke marijuana, drugged driving arrests are notoriously easy for police to justify.
While Maine’s OUI laws allow police to make drunk driving arrests if a suspect has a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above the legal limit of 0.08% or if the officer thinks the driver is impaired, there is no legal limit for THC, the hallucinogenic compound in marijuana.
Without an objective standard to measure when someone is too impaired to drive – even an arbitrary one like drunk driving’s 0.08% BAC – police only have subjective standards to use. These standards revolve around a police officer’s feelings or the impressions of a driver’s mental state – impressions a police officer has to form in the span of only a couple of minutes, and which are masked by the discomfort many drivers experience when they get pulled over and searched for a crime.
As a result, many drugged driving arrests are made on nothing more than a police officer’s hunch, dragging lots of innocent people into the depths of Maine’s criminal justice system.
Once recreational marijuana finally becomes a reality in Maine, we can expect the police to claim more and more drivers are stoned when they arrest them for OUI. Defending against any OUI charges that stem from such an arrest is going to be critical, as the penalties of an OUI conviction are significant.
The OUI-defense lawyers at Maine Criminal Defense Group strive to defend people who have been arrested and accused of driving while under the influence of marijuana. Contact them online or call their law office at (207) 571-8146 for help.
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