After reading the opinion handed down by the Michigan Supreme Court yesterday holding that people can be prosecuted for driving a vehicle with any amount of 11-carboxy-THC in their bloodstream, I think they’ve got to be high. On second thought, even potheads wouldn’t have written a judicial opinion this bad. With a tortured reading of dictionaries for definitions that agree with their conclusions and a blatant disregard for any sense of equity or justice, they’ve just made anyone who smoked marijuana weeks or months ago into a criminal just for driving a car.
Which argument do you find more convincing? Justice Corrigan writing for the four-judge majority?
First, the dissent claims that our interpretation of the statute does not provide an ordinary person with notice of prohibited conduct. To the contrary, the plain language of the statute is clear and unambiguous. MCL 257.625(8) prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle with any amount of a schedule 1 controlled substance in the body. In essence, the statute prohibits a person from driving after smoking marijuana. It is irrelevant that an “ordinary” marijuana smoker allegedly does not know that 11-carboxy-THC could last in his or her body for weeks. It is also irrelevant that a person might not be able to drive long after any possible impairment from ingesting marijuana has worn off. The use of marijuana is classified as a misdemeanor under current law, MCL 333.7404(1) and (2)(d). The Legislature’s prohibition of the operation of a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana, which explicitly includes derivatives of marijuana, in the body provides more than adequate notice regarding the prohibited conduct. The corollary of this prohibition is that once the schedule 1 substance is no longer in the body, one can resume driving. It is irrelevant that the “ordinary person” cannot determine, without drug testing, when the schedule 1 substance is no longer detectible in the body.
or Justice Cavanagh writing for the dissent?
Plainly, there is no rational reason to charge a person who passively inhaled marijuana smoke at a rock concert a month ago and who now decides to drive to work. There is no rational reason to charge a person who inhaled marijuana two weeks ago and who now decides to drive to the store to pick up a gallon of milk. While I certainly agree with the Legislature’s position that a person should be punished for driving while under the influence of a controlled substance because of the potential for tragic outcomes, the majority’s interpretation of the statute is arbitrary and wholly unrelated in a rational way to the objective of the statute. To say that driving while a person’s system contains any amount of a substance that has no pharmacological effect is a crime””given that under the most conservative estimates offered by the prosecution, the current scientific testing can find evidence of the substance for at least four weeks””is not permissible under the Constitution.
Can you impeach judges in Michigan? At the least, I recommend that every citizen of Michigan call their legislators and get them to amend this statute to undo this mess that Justices Maura D. Corrigan, Clifford W. Taylor, Robert P. Young, Jr., and Stephen J. Markmanthe have created. Is Michigan trying to catch up with Georgia in making stupid laws?
Hat tip: Jacob Sullum at Hit & Run.