Many of our clients are stopped for a violation of California Vehicle Code 23152, and are found to be under the influence of marijuana and alcohol. California VC 23152 makes it unlawful for any person to be operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol of drugs. The code section was written before medical marijuana was permitted under certain situations, and therefore case law since then has determined how to deal with medical marijuana.
If a person holds a lawful Medical Marijuana card in compliance with the Compassionate Use Act, then they are permitted to be in possession of an ounce of marijuana. The question many of our clients have, is if this allows them to have used the marijuana before driving a vehicle, since they are legally permitted to be under the influence.
The answer can be explained by comparing marijuana usage to alcohol consumption. By law, a person over the age of 21 is permitted to drink alcohol, but they are still not allowed to be operating a vehicle under its influence. The consumption of alcohol is legal, until it becomes a danger to society, i.e, when the person gets behind the wheel and decides to drive.
Similarly, when a person smokes marijuana in the privacy of their home and they have a legal medical marijuana prescription, they are doing it within the limits of the law. However, once they decide to operate a vehicle while they are impaired, they are committing an unlawful act. They become a harm to society, very much like the person who decided to drive under the influence of alcohol.
When a person is stopped for being under the influence of alcohol and the impairment of marijuana, it could potentially be a serious charge. An experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney has seen thousands of cases like these and has successfully provided a strong defense. Be prepared with someone who will provide you with a powerful argument and knows the importance of reducing or dismissing your case.