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Medical marijuana dispensary opens in Naperville, prompting DUI questions

Dupage County's first medical marijuana dispensary recently opened for business on Naperville's far west side. The Naperville 3C Dispensary (with the Cs standing for Compassionate Care Center) opened Feb. 4, joining other dispensaries that are already in operation in Illinois.

In November, Illinois began allowing allowing the sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes only, including treating illnesses such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. As more people begin to use medical marijuana in the state, questions are being asked about the use of the drug while driving. 

As it stands, driving while under the influence of marijuana is a gray area. Whether you are using the drug recreationally or medicinally, there is no clear threshold under the law that says how much is too much as there is with alcohol (.08 blood alcohol concentration).

Police tend to operate under a zero-tolerance policy, so you can face a DUI charge no matter how small the amount of marijuana in your system. This is problematic because it can take weeks to flush marijuana from your body. You could face a DUI even if you are not actually impaired by the drug and have not been for some time.

There are no scientific field tests, such as the Breathalyzer, that police can use to evaluate whether you are too high to be behind the wheel. If you're pulled over on suspicion of impairment, the officer will ask you to do field sobriety tests, but these are subjective. And, if you do have a condition that you are treating with medical marijuana, you may do poorly on the field tests because of your underlying condition, not because you are stoned to drive.

Illinois' lawmakers are currently calling for scientific testing to establish what level of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) causes impairment. Once this is known, they would attempt to outlaw marijuana use beyond a certain limit, as has been done with alcohol, in relation to driving.

It remains to be seen what might come of that. As mentioned above, it is very difficult to gauge whether a person is impaired by marijuana because it lingers in your system long after you experience any sensation caused by the drug. 

If you are accused of driving under the influence of marijuana, it is very important to talk to an experienced attorney. Do not assume that your charges are going to be thrown out because you are a registered medical marijuana user. You can be convicted of DUI regardless of this.

If you are facing a DUI or drug charge, ensure your rights are protected by talking to a good lawyer. The Law Office of Philip R. Nathe in Naperville has decades of experience and offers free initial consultations. Call 630-364-4621 or contact us online to get your questions answered.

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