Delta County District Court Judge Glenn Pearson made the right call in a recent case involving a medical marijuana patient.
Brenda Ann Chase, 46, of Gwinn, was found guilty of driving while under the influence of marijuana in a bench trial before Pearson earlier this week. Chase was arrested Jan. 13 after a Michigan State Police trooper stopped her speeding vehicle on M-35. He smelled marijuana and noticed Chase's eyes were bloodshot. Chase admitted she had smoke a joint a couple hours before.
Chase's defense during her trial was she had applied for a medical marijuana card on Nov. 3. 2009, prior to her arrest. In Michigan, a medical marijuana card allows patients who suffer from certain medical conditions to use and possess marijuana legally.
Pearson made the right call by finding Chase guilty. He held true to Michigan law which states a driver cannot operate a vehicle with any amount of marijuana in their body. Blood tests presented during the trial showed Chase had THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in her blood stream.
Use of marijuana to help treat medical conditions is fine. In fact, it's the law of the land. The voters of the state of Michigan approved a proposal to make the use of marijuana for medical conditions legal for those issued a medical marijuana card.
This does not give medical marijuana patients the right to get behind the wheel while they are impaired. Not only is it foolish and dangerous - it's illegal. The same can be said about anyone under the influence of any prescription drug. If it impairs your ability to drive, it is illegal for you to get behind the wheel. In fact, the labels of many prescription medications warn users not to drive or operate heavy machinery.
It is is the same thing as driving under the influence of alcohol. There is no difference. Anyone under the influence of a substance that impairs their ability should not and cannot legally drive.
Impaired drivers not only pose a risk to themselves, but other drivers. Too many people are killed each year in accidents that involve drunk or drugged drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drugs were reported in nearly 4,000 drivers who were killed in 2009, or 18 percent of the nearly 22,000 drivers killed last year.
Bottom line - if you have a medical marijuana card, feel free to use it for medical purposes. Just stay off the road when you do. You do not have the right to put others in harm's way.