The summer travel season is officially underway and soon curious cannabis connoisseurs from all across America will be looking to states that have legalized recreational marijuana to spend their vacations. Indeed, Colorado and Washington have become the Disney of the cannabis culture — a novelty, of sorts — which stems from the simple fact that these places are the only locations in the entire nation where cannabis is currently being sold under the regulatory parallel of the alcohol industry.
Unfortunately, while states that have legalized the leaf are more than happy to welcome toker tourists into their communities to contribute to the local economy, recent reports indicate there could be some serious repercussions, including DUI charges and loss of employment, waiting for these people once they return home.
All law enforcement need to rein down fury on citizens in states like Indiana, which has a zero tolerance law against stoned driving, is enough reasonable suspicion to demand a drug test.
“You can be charged and convicted, even if you were not impaired,” Indianapolis attorney John Tompkins told The Indianapolis Star.
That means it’s plausible to suggest that an individual returning to Indiana after a trip to Colorado could risk DUI if police believe they are driving impaired. This roadside shakedown could be provoked by nothing more than a bumper sticker proclaiming an affinity for the Centennial State, a t-shirt suggesting someone in the car got mile high or simply a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth: “Well, officer we’re just coming home from a vacation in Denver,” said the man in handcuffs.
All it really takes is to get stopped along the highway for doing a few miles over the speed limit or having a busted taillight to get the ball rolling towards a DUI. To make things worse, people are infamous for telling on themselves. Recent statistics show that 10 million people each year admit to driving under the influence of illegal drugs – and yes, that includes smoking marijuana in legal states.
Although it’s illegal to operate a vehicle under the influence of intoxicating substances in all 50 states, regardless if the impairment is brought on by beer, weed or Valium, some states have stricter laws than others in regards to how they handle drugged driving. This can result in the dropping of a heavy hammer if a cop decides to challenge a motorist’s red-eyed travel past.
In most states, prosecutors must be able to determine that impairment was the direct result of marijuana before they can get a DUI conviction. These are called “effect-based” states. In “per se” states, drivers can evade DUI charges as long as they don’t go over the THC limit imposed by state law. But, in the case of zero-tolerance states, all the prosecution needs is any sign of cannabis being present in the driver to get a criminal conviction – a plague that can keep you in the system for several years and cost in upwards of $10,000.
Regardless of how unfair it might be to prosecute a person for DUI because they may have smoked a joint a week ago, this is the game some state governments have elected to play and if you want to survive, you have to maintain an attitude rooted in prevention rather than combativeness. Remember, just because a law enforcement tactic seems unjust doesn’t make it illegal, unconstitutional or even impossible.
Now, after making it home from a relaxing stoner retreat without encountering an unsavory run in with the law, there’s still some risk that the high holiday could end in hardship. As long as marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance by the federal government, some places of employment — especially manufacturing facilities — are required to enforce policies against the use of illegal drugs. That includes the legal cannabis smoked while visiting Colorado.
Therefore, if you bragged to a supervisor or co-worker that you were going to be relishing in the freedom of legal cannabis, there’s a chance that you could be greeted with a random drug test when you return to work. Rest assured, if that happens and the test comes back positive for cannabis, you will undoubtedly be fired and have no legal recourse when it comes time to apply for unemployment – you simply will not be approved. There have been some instances where employees have failed drug tests for pot, gotten fired and then been awarded unemployment, but this has only happened in medical marijuana states where patients have the support of their physicians.
“There would be nothing prohibiting an employer from terminating an employee who tested positive,” attorney Curtis Graves told the Star. “If the employer decides to test you and they don’t typically need to show impairment, if the metabolites are there, they can terminate without any consequences.”
It’s a good idea to know the odds when getting tested. An average sized person who smokes a little weed once during a vacation will likely provide a negative test result during a urine screen within 7 days. However, if the same person goes on a weed bender, chances are they are going to fail miserably – THC can remain in the system of a regular user for around 100 days after the date of last consumption. If an employer slaps you with a surprise hair follicle test, it’s time to find a new job.
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