Cannabis is an herb that has been unfairly dogged by many of the same laws that govern hard drugs. In fact, in some instances it has been treated with an even heavier hand – simply because it is more widely used and easily available. People have served prison sentences for the possession of marijuana that are commensurate to those convicted of possessing hard drugs like cocaine and heroin.
And so, here are some of the weird and problematic laws that have been applied to cannabis and its users – not just here in the United States, but in a couple of other countries as well.
Although Arizona passed the Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, many people don’t know that employees can still get fired for possessing medical marijuana legally or reporting to work under the influence following a therapy session, despite laws to the contrary. Go figure.
Similarly, in Spokane, Washington, Mike Boyer found himself in the history books when he became the first buyer of legal marijuana in the state. For a little while he was a celebrity of sorts as media outlets followed him home and showed him lighting up. Needless to say, his employers weren’t too keen about the news and fired him. Of course, they caved in later and rehired him, but not all of us can be so lucky.
Driving under the Influence
As a matter of fact, the state can send you to prison for DUI if you happen to have smoked a doobie before getting behind the wheel. Again, Arizona (along with Oklahoma) has a zero-tolerance policy and you can get arrested if any amount of marijuana is detected in your blood stream while operating a vehicle. That’s not good news considering the fact that it can be detected in your blood or urine up to three months down the line; this is especially critical in the case of regular smokers (like those that had been receiving cannabis therapy) who have recently given up smoking. However, the amount of detectable THC disappears from samples after 27 hours for irregular users.
Furthermore, no state has developed an accurate roadside tool to check for the amount of drugs in your system – the best of them have only started testing new roadside sobriety test tools. While they can drag you all the way to the station or a medical establishment, take a sample of your blood and test it, there is no “breathalyzer” for marijuana. Nonetheless, in some states, they can actually send you to jail based on your behavior or actions, which could be enough to prove that you were “under the influence” – irrespective of the amount of marijuana in your system.
If you’re thinking you’re safe from the arms of the law while parked in the driveway, you’re wrong. There are states – California is one of them – that can charge you for DUI for simply sitting in a stationary car while you are under “the influence”.
While some states have maximum blood-THC levels (Washington and Colorado dictate no more than 5.00 ng/ml) no conclusive study has ever been done to find out at what level – if at all – it is that you are too impaired to operate a vehicle.
Contrary to popular belief, Jamaica – the land of the Rastas and the island long associated with cannabis – isn’t the country to head to if you want herbal freedom. It was only at the start of 2015 that the Jamaican House of representatives passed a law decriminalizing possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis.
Instead, head to Uruguay. In 2013, the country’s House of Representatives and Senate passed a bill legalizing and regulating the production and sale of cannabis – making Uruguay the first country in the world to fully legalize pot.
Another option is Portugal: in 2000 the country decriminalized the use of all illicit drugs, and focus was instead turned towards prevention and treatment of drug users. But, although drug use is not a crime, it is still prohibited and you could go to the “Commissions for Drug Addiction Dissuasion” if you are in possession of more dope than you could use in 10 days – where you are then sentenced to mandatory treatment.
While we are on the path towards the legalization of marijuana, there are some sticky legal patches that can get any user into trouble with the authorities. The best way to go about it is to play it safe, educate yourself about local laws, and hope for the best.
It can’t be too long of a wait.