A bill proposed in Ohio would overhaul the state’s Operating a Vehicle Impaired (OVI) laws related to cannabis by eliminating the requirement that motorists be automatically charged under the law after failing a drug test for cannabis, WCMH reports. Under the measure proposed by state Sen. Nathan Manning (R), drivers could argue that despite the positive test, they weren’t under the influence and a judge or jury would ultimately determine whether to convict someone on the OVI charge.
“I think it’s time that we updated the code and look at the science behind it and make sure that we’re holding people accountable who are driving under the influence or intoxicated or high, but not holding those people that maybe have taken marijuana days or weeks earlier accountable when they’re not under the influence whatsoever.” — Manning to WCMH
Under current Ohio law, drivers can be arrested if law enforcement believes there’s probable cause for impairment, which is typically determined by a roadside sobriety test. The arrested individual then undergoes a blood or urine test, and if the sample shows a certain concentration of THC, the driver is automatically charged with an OVI.
Under Manning’s bill, laboratories would also solely screen for delta-9 THC, as opposed to existing law that looks for any trace of cannabis, including its inactive ingredients.
Criminal defense attorney Dan Sabol told WCMH that under current state law, “You’re not exactly testing to see whether someone is under the influence or not, you’re testing to see if they’ve used THC within the last week or months.”
Sabol noted that medical cannabis patients are particularly at risk under current state law because of how long cannabis is detectible in a person’s system, which he described as “inherently unfair.”
“You can get a recommendation to use marijuana to treat a medical condition – and that’s good by the state of Ohio – but if you were to drive days or weeks after, we’re gonna treat you just like the drunk driver hobbling away from the bar at 2 a.m.,” he said in the report.
The measure is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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