Lawyer: DUI laws are unfair to medical marijuana users



SEATTLE - Since Washington state legalized pot, police have arrested 130 people for driving under the influence of drugs. 

However, a lot of people believe the new marijuana DUI law may not be fair.

Douglass Hiatt, a Seattle DUI lawyer and a major medical marijuana advocate, told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Frank Field that he is concerned that 16-21-year-old medical marijuana patients will have no defense under the law. Any amount of marijuana means they are guilty of DUI, Hiatt said, and that can ruin their chances of getting into college or landing jobs.

"When you have a zero tolerance standard, it has nothing to do with impairment," Hiatt said. "It's simply a new punishment for kids for pot. And it's wrong."

Hiatt is waiting for state crime lab reports to tell him whether or not he can even defend his clients.

The law says exceeding a limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana in the bloodstream is a "per se," or "in fact," proof of guilt.

"Per se means you take the test, you hit the level, you're guilty," Hiatt said. "That's it."

Steve Sarich, who runs a medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood, told Field that medical marijuana patients will always have the drug in their blood, but aren't necessarily impaired while driving. He said everybody processes the drug differently.

"They aren't making things safer," Sarich said. "All they're doing is arresting people for having a substance in their blood that may or may not be impairing them whatsoever."

Hiatt said a lawyer's best defense is attacking the reasons an officer asked a driver to take a blood test in the first place. However, he said, he would like to see the entire law scrapped and marijuana completely decriminalized.