Question: How do Maryland police show impairment in marijuana DUI cases?
Answer: In Maryland as most jurisdictions, there’s no definite way to tell whether somebody’s impaired by marijuana. The first thing that they would do is attempt to do the field sobriety tests as they would do with alcohol. However, those tests are scientifically based on alcohol’s impairment, not marijuana. They do have in Maryland in some jurisdictions what’s called a drug recognition expert; those are DREs. However, some courts have deemed it junk science and not really all that valid. But it’s a series of questions and tests that an officer can do. There’s usually only one certified officer in each jurisdiction, and he goes through those and then he basically is guessing based off of a couple factors whether the person’s under the influence of marijuana.
The only way for them to really tell whether there’s marijuana in the system would be with a blood draw. But the issue comes up that, again, it’s not—they have to actually prove the impairment, and right now there is no standard basis for how much marijuana in somebody’s system counts as impairment. That hasn’t been scientifically adopted yet because marijuana’s been illegal for so long, there aren’t any studies. So nobody really knows the best way yet. Colorado is obviously on the forefront of doing these kind of roadside tests.
There is a new test coming out that basically is a saliva test that can tell the amount, but there is no actual basis, there is no line like in DUI cases, .08 is per se. In marijuana, there is no definitive number of how much in your system is impairment, and there’s a lot of conflicting data showing that actually, sometimes if you have ingested marijuana you actually sometimes drive better to a point. And that has not been scientifically nailed down yet.