CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Cannabis possession and its use is a rapidly changing area of law in Utah. As with other prescription drugs, improper use of medical marijuana can possibly result in a DUI charge.
Under the recently adopted Utah Medical Cannabis Act, people with qualifying medical conditions may obtain a permit to purchase and consume a small amount of marijuana for personal use, and attorney Jason Schatz with Schatz Anderson & Associates said this can be a defense to a charge of driving with a measurable controlled substance in the body in violation of Utah Code 41-6A-517.
Learn more about medical marijuana and DUI laws in the “Ask a Local Expert” video in the media player above.
However, individuals under sufficient influence of legally obtained medical cannabis to a degree that their ability to safely operate a vehicle is impaired can be arrested and convicted for DUI.
“Just because you have a medical marijuana permit does not mean that you cannot be prosecuted for a DUI for being under the influence of marijuana and driving,” Schatz said.
Furthermore, cannabis for therapeutic use can only be possessed in medical dosage form in properly labeled containers, Schatz said. Failure to follow these regulations may result in additional charges for illegal possession of a controlled substance.
Although marijuana can be purchased legally without a prescription in nearby Nevada, Colorado and California, it is illegal to possess cannabis in Utah without a valid medical marijuana permit from Utah or another state. Visitors to the Beehive State often find this out the hard way, Schatz said.
“You need to hire an attorney who knows and understands Utah’s unique laws regulating the possession and use of marijuana,” he added.
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