March 8, 2011
Attorney General Bill Schuette today announced his office has filed an amicus
brief in support of Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Alan Schneider's appeal to
the Michigan Court of Appeals in People v. Koon, a case in which
Schneider charged a medical marijuana user with driving with marijuana in his
charged on May 21, 2010 by the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's office for
driving under the influence of a drug (OUID). Michigan's motor vehicle code
prohibits drivers from operating a motor vehicle with any amount of a Schedule 1
substance in the body. Koon, a medical marijuana user, had been stopped for
speeding on February 3, 2010 and admitted to smoking marijuana that day. A
blood test conducted afterward found evidence of active THC - the psychoactive
ingredient in marijuana - in Koon's system. Schneider filed the charge because
the state motor vehicle code prohibits driving with any amount of marijuana in a
charge, the Grand Traverse County district and circuit courts erroneously
concluded that language in the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act (MMMA) superseded
the motor vehicle code and required the prosecutor to demonstrate Koon was
actually impaired by the marijuana in his system. The courts therefore did not
allow Schneider to explain to a potential jury that the motor vehicle code
prohibits any presence of drugs in a driver's system. The trial has been
postponed while Schneider pursues the appeal.
argues in his brief that while the MMMA provides limited protection to certain
individuals who use marijuana in accordance with the act, it does not offer
protection to those who then drive with marijuana in their system. Therefore,
the zero-tolerance standard established by the Michigan motor vehicle code
should be followed to protect public safety.
noted that Michigan State Police statistics show just how dangerous driving
under the influence of drugs is. In 2009, 52 people were killed and 282 injured
in 916 car crashes in Michigan involving a driver who had used drugs.
must not be interpreted in a way that puts the safety of people on the roads at
risk," said Schuette. "Michigan law makes clear that driving with drugs in your
system is illegal. Allowing anyone to do so puts the lives of our families and
friends unnecessarily in jeopardy."
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