Yes, if you smoke enough marijuana to become impaired, and drive after, you can be charged and eventually convicted for intoxicated driving in Michigan. In fact, every month, more of Michigan’s drivers are being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana. There are many reasons for this increase in DUI marijuana charges.
Increasing numbers of Michigan’s citizens are using marijuana now that it is legal in the State for both recreational and medicinal use. This includes previous “illegal” users of the drug but also includes new users of the drug, or those who last used sometimes decades ago. Now that the drug is legal, the stigma of its use is largely gone, and those in the 40s, 50s, and 60s and even 70s+ are returning to its use.
Many of these new or newer marijuana users are unfamiliar with how much things have changed in the past decades. Nearly all marijuana on the market today, recreationally or medicinally, have far higher percentages of THC, the psychoactive ingredient, then in years past. Even the “lower” ranges of the marijuana available at dispensaries have THC levels of 13-15%, which is way higher than anything available in decades past. It’s not uncommon for dispensaries to sell strains of marijuana flowers that are above 20% THC. Edibles can be far higher than that. This all means that even a single dose/hit of marijuana packs a far greater “punch” than many historical smokers remember.
Then there is an increase in detection. Police officers are on the lookout for the tell-tale signs of marijuana use, first among them being odor of marijuana. Police officers also have tools available to them that didn’t exist in the past, such as roadside testing (still in beta stages in Michigan) as well as advanced training such as ARIDE and DRE training.
What’s important to know in all of this is that the penalties for this crime of operating under the influence of marijuana are exactly the same as being arrested and convicted of drunk driving. This is because in Michigan, the statute for both crimes, which in MCL 257.625, defines OWI to mean operating while intoxicated by virtually any substance. This means that the intoxication element can be based on – meaning caused by – alcohol, and pretty much any other drug, legal or not. In other words, the intoxication in OWI can be caused by any illegal drug, as well as any prescription drug.
So if you smoke pot, become intoxicated, and drive in Michigan, you can be charged just as if you were drunk driving, which means charged with OWI, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail , carrying with it a 180-day driver license suspension with no driving whatsoever permitted for the first 30 days.