Medical Marijuana Impairment While Driving Against Oklahoma Law

Friday, July 13th 2018, 5:31 pm
By: News 9

Medical marijuana is now legal in Oklahoma, but that doesn't mean you can drive while using it. The Oklahoma Highway Safety Office wants to make that message clear to those looking to get a license.

“In Oklahoma we have a zero-tolerance policy on the road,” said Paul Harris, director of the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office.

A zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs including medical marijuana.

“As far as the effects of impaired driving in Oklahoma, we expect that's going to increase,” he said.

Harris fears that could mean more crashes.

“The more prescriptions that are out there, the more people that will be on the prescriptions and the likelihood they're going to get into a vehicle and drive is going to be higher,” he said.

Driving under the influence of marijuana is against the law in Oklahoma, and for now, that won't change, even if you have a license to use it. So, the agency is working on a campaign to get the word out, much like it does with its ENDUI program. It also plans to partner with dispensaries to discourage people from driving under the influence of marijuana.

“Any impairment either legal or illegal is an impairment and you're in violation of the law,” Harris said.

Enforcing the laws of the road won't change, beginning with erratic driving -- if officers see it they will pull the driver over and then as this demonstration shows -- conduct a field sobriety test.

What will change is the addition of a roadside test for marijuana.

“The board of tests has approved oral fluid screening devices for drugs other than alcohol. Those devices will take a sample of the person's oral fluid that's placed in a device that measures the chemicals in that person's oral fluid,” said Kevin Behrens, director of the Oklahoma Board of Tests.

Marijuana though, unlike alcohol, doesn't have a set limit for intoxication in Oklahoma.

“It's significantly more difficult because of the way the body reacts to drugs as opposed to alcohol. It's very difficult to say, 'this number’ is an impairing number," Behrens said.

“Do you go to five nanograms and anything below that is good or above? I don't have the answer to that and i don't know anyone that really does,” Harris said.

Harris said any THC limit for drivers would have to be set by lawmakers.