Last week a story made headlines when a Denver woman was acquitted of driving high, despite being nearly four times over the state’s legal limit for THC.
29 -year-old Melanie Brinegar was pulled over in June of 2014 for an expired plate tag. When the officer smelled cannabis, she told him that she was a registered Medical Marijuana patient. She actually moved to Colorado two years ago from Indiana in order to access the state’s flourishing MMJ Program.
“I’m constantly in pain if I don’t use cannabis,” said Brinegar.
Brinegar works at a dispensary and was on her way to work when police say she failed the roadside sobriety test. However, her attorney convinced a Jefferson co jury that her roadside results are not unusual for a sober person. Brinegar testified that she uses MMJ for back pain, and would be unable to drive without it.
McCallin said his client was offered a plea deal on a lesser count but she refused because she would’ve had to give up medical marijuana for up to two years.
“I knew I wasn’t guilty,” said Brinegar, who added, “I’ve been driving and I’ve had no issues. I have people drive with me and they see that I’m one of the most careful drivers that they are with, and I use cannabis daily.”
Stories like these highlight the difficult conundrum regarding cannabis and DUI laws. Are ‘stoned’ drivers really a threat to the public like drunk drivers? Should the DUI laws apply universally? If so, what are the legal limits? Questions like these will continue to arise until medical marijuana becomes more widely accepted. Hopefully, recent improvements to the cannabis research field in the US will shed some light on the issue. Recently, a study fudned by the federal government determined that driving while drunk lead to significantly greater chance of accidents when compared to driving high.