Updated with response from the defendant. First posted at 9:02 a.m.
Leave it to a medical-marijuana
-impaired -inspired driver to challenge this: But a Nevada Supreme Court had to actually rule on a California woman's claim that she had the right to drive under the influence of pot because the substance is legal for patients in California.
Problem is, even in this here toasty Golden State, it's not legal to drive under the influence of weed!
Shira Monet Garfinkel took her case all the way to Nevada's high court, claiming that she had a constitutional right to drive across state lines with her “medicine” in her bloodstream.
Wow. Can't say we Californians don't have grapes.
The court, of course, said, eh, no.
The Supreme Court says the law does not stop Garfinkel from driving across Nevada. It merely prohibits driving after testing positive for marijuana in the blood or urine.
Garfinkel also argued there was no basis for a law that doesn't show a person with marijuana in her blood is impaired to drive. She said it was not illegal in California.
According to our good friends at California NORML it is, in fact, illegal to drive under the influence of bud. Problem is, it's hard to to prove. A urine test can tell authorities you've had weed recently, just not exactly when, and to what extent.
That doesn't make it a right in California, however.
You know what is a right of all Californians? Making a fool of yourself in Nevada. But remember to keep it there.
Update: Defendant Garfinkel, a Santa Cruz college student, called us to respond.
“I didn't know I lost” the case, she told the Weekly. ” I basically found out from your blog.”
She said her public defendant had asked to take the case to the Supreme Court for her and did so.
The day she was pulled over she said she was in the Lake Tahoe area, within two miles of the California boarder. She said she failed a field sobriety test because she couldn't maintain standing on one leg long enough (she said she had an injury that prevented her from doing so).
Garfinkel, a California medical marijuana card-holder, maintains that “I wasn't high. I hadn't smoked all day.”
Her argument is backed up by a summary that's part of the Supreme Court's ruling:
Garfinkel maintains that she only had marijuana metabolite in her blood and not active marijuana. In California, she says, that doesn't constitute DUI. (That's not exactly true: According to NORML, it's a gray area in California).
The fact that Nevada doesn't allow “metabolite content greater than 5 nanograms per millileter of blood” violated Garfinkel's right to travel across state lines, she argued.
“That's why she [Garfinkel's public defendant] was fighting it,” she said, “she said it shouldn't be based on the inactive metabolite.”
The court didn't agree, saying Nevada law “provides adequate notice that it is unlawful to drive with clearly defined levels of marijuana or marijuana metabolite in the bloodstream.”
The court also ruled that the law “does not [prevent] Garfinkel's transit through the state, it criminalizes her driving a motor vehicle through the state with prohibited substances in her blood or urine.”
Apparently, what you smoke in California must stay in California. Got that, kids?