Bill introduced to set legal limits on THC for drivers

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A state lawmaker has introduced a new bill to amend Michigan’s Motor Vehicle Code, setting a legal limit for the THC in a driver’s blood stream.

Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, introduced House Bill 4727 yesterday. The bill would make it a crime to drive with THC levels above five nanograms per milliliter of blood.

“We have to ensure there are appropriate punishments in place when drivers make the misguided decision to put the lives of others in danger by driving under the influence of THC,” Hornberger said in a news release.

Former state lawmaker and current Macomb County Prosecutor Peter Lucido worked with Hornberger on the legislation, calling it a change in the name of safety.

“Modifying the existing Motor Vehicle Code to incorporate a marijuana threshold will make our roads safer and provide an invaluable tool for law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting marijuana driving cases,” Lucido said in a statement.

Currently, seven states across the country have a legal THC limit for drivers, ranging from one to five nanograms per milliliter. However, a local expert says THC doesn’t directly translate to being impaired.

Dr. Norbert Kaminski is a professor of pharmacology and toxicology at Michigan State University, with an expertise in cannabis. He says depending on how marijuana was ingested or how regularly you use it, could sway the results of THC tests.

“There’s a very long period of time where you still have measurable levels that can be detected in the blood,” Kaminski told News 8.

“Somebody could in essence smoke some cannabis and have relatively high THC levels, but then 12 hours later when they no longer are experiencing the psychotropic effects of THC,” he said. “You could still have 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in your blood.”

Kaminski served on the state’s Impaired Driving Safety Commission, which reported in their study that THC measurement alone is an inadequate way to test for impaired driving. He suggests a set of field tests to determine impairment alongside a THC measurement.

“What are we really trying to do here? Are we really trying to assess whether somebody is impaired? And if we are, then what we really need to do is show that they are impaired?” Kaminski said.

Currently, driving under the influence of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to 360 hours of community service, 93 days in jail and/or a fine up to $500.

Hornberger’s bill has been referred to the State House Committee on Rules and Competitiveness.

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