With Washington beginning the charge in 2012, several states are loosening restrictions on marijuana and legalizing certain amounts for medical and recreational use. Naturally, the decriminalization of a substance like marijuana in a state changes how its law enforcement operates. Police may face new challenges, but the public with whom they operate can also be negatively affected by biased police work.
What is the Law on Marijuana in Washington State?
As many people across the state know, marijuana is legal in Washington for personal use, though subject to certain restrictions. Adults over the age of 21 may purchase up to one ounce of usable marijuana, and other amounts of marijuana may be bought in other forms as well. However, it is important to note that the legalization of marijuana does not mean that there are no rules attached.
Marijuana operates in a similar way to alcohol in that even though it is legal to purchase and use, it is not permissible to drive with a certain amount in your system. In the state of Washington, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana if you have more than 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood. It is tricky to say for an individual what amount of marijuana might lead to that number—the best advice is to avoid driving at all if you have ingested marijuana in any form.
A Washington State Study, Flawed
On May 7, researchers from Washington State University published a study outlining data gathered from law enforcement officers on the alleged effects that legalizing marijuana had had on enforcement efforts. Mary Stohr, a professor of criminology and justice and the leader of the study said
it is imperative that we listen to the voices of police in a state like Washington for insight into areas of impact.
To conduct the study, researchers held focus groups with a total of 48 law enforcement officers from different agencies around the state. The officers were asked questions on how their jobs had changed after legalization and whether the changes had made things easier or more difficult.
This so-called study, however, is thoroughly flawed. For one, only 48 officers were questions. For another, the majority of those 48 officers were white males. This creates seriously biased answers to highly subjective questions.
In addition, the officers mentioned that they were seeing an increase in drugged drivers, but the study made no mention of the possibility that they were simply going out of their way to stop who they thought were drugged drivers or that more testing is now being done in light of legalization than what had been done prior to legalization. Police also mentioned that they were reluctant to bring certain charges for fear of having them thrown out by prosecutors, which suggests that police are making bad arrests on cases they know won't stick and are willfully doing so.
Contact Steve Karimi Law Office Today
If you have been arrested and charged with a marijuana DUI, the assistance of an experienced Seattle criminal defense attorney could be exactly what you need. Steve Karimi has handled thousands of cases as a King County prosecutor and is now ready to put that experience to work for you to help you defend against your own charges. For a free consultation, call 206-621-8777.