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Southfield, Mich. — March 23, 2015 — Neil Rockind, founder of Southfield-based criminal defense law firm, Rockind Law, voiced his opposition to attempts by the Michigan legislature to amend the Operating While Intoxicated statute via House Bill 4357 to set a “per se” limit for medical marijuana patients, thereby making the main chemical in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinal (THC), equivalent to alcohol when determining intoxication under the Michigan Vehicle Code. (For unregistered and non-cardholder patients, zero tolerance is the rule).
Prior to this proposed amendment, a medical marijuana patient could not be accused or convicted of Operating While Intoxicated solely due to the amount of THC in his/her body. Rather, the government needed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused was intoxicated or impaired. The amendment includes the addition of a 5 nanonograms of THC per 1 milliliter of blood as the standard for determining intoxication.
“There is no scientific basis for selecting the 5 nanogram cut-off limit for THC when determining intoxication,” Rockind said. “Unlike the blood alcohol levels of .08 and .10 outlined for drunk driving, which are ostensibly based in science, using 5 nanograms of THC as a cut-off point is purely subjective. There is no definitive scientific evidence equating THC levels with alcohol levels in intoxicated driving.”
To support his position, Rockind refers to a large body of research that explores the impact of marijuana on psychomotor skills and actual driving performance and includes driving simulator studies, on-road performance studies, crash culpability studies, and summary reviews of the existing evidence. Also, a recent article in the Washington Post highlighting a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that, “For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving.” The entire article can be read here.
“The findings of the extensive research in the area are fairly consistent: Marijuana has a measurable yet relatively mild effect on psychomotor skills and does not appear to play a significant role in vehicle crashes, particularly when compared to alcohol,” Rockind said.
Rockind sees the amendment to the operating while intoxicated guidelines as another attempt by the Michigan legislature to confuse the public into believing it can legislate away crime and accidents.
“Any push to change operating while intoxicated standards needs more scientific oversight,” Rockind said. “In its quest to appear as crime preventers, the Michigan legislature continues its crusade of creating laws and establishing arbitrary guidelines that encroach on the civil liberties of state residents.”
A copy of House Bill 4357 can be viewed here.
Rockind holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Wayne State University School of Law and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan. He is active in a variety of professional organizations, including membership in the State Bar of Michigan, Criminal Defense section of the State Bar of Michigan, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, among others. In February 2014 he was named among Michigan’s 30 Leaders in the Law by legal trade publication Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
About Rockind Law
Rockind Law is a Southfield, Michigan-based criminal defense law firm aggressively pursuing justice for individuals facing criminal charges, including white collar crime, drunk driving, narcotics and assault. To find out more about the firm’s services and resources, visit http://www.rockindlaw.com/.