Michigan State Police Drops a Bombshell About Compromised Marijuana Testing in OWI/DUI Cases
By Daniel T. Geherin
In 2018, Michigan was the first state in the Midwest to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for those over the age of 21. However, the laws relating to Operating While Intoxicated/Impaired (OWI) didn't change with respect to marijuana. A driver can still be prosecuted for operating a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana or, in some instances, with the presence of marijuana in their system. When police in Michigan suspected marijuana use or influence in an arrested driver, they would get a sample of the driver's blood and send it to the Michigan State Police (MSP) Forensic Science Division for analysis. When that test revealed the presence of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)-the illegal, psychoactive property of marijuana-a driver often was charged with a OWI.
In August 2022, MSP dropped a major bombshell on the criminal justice community: They revealed that their chemical blood testing analysis for THC was badly compromised between March 2019 and August 2022. MSP revealed that their testing failed to distinguish between the illegal properties of THC and the legal property of CBD (Cannabidiol). CBD was legalized in Michigan back in March 2019. Now, MSP found that their testing may have resulted in CBD being converted to THC during lab analysis, leading to inaccurate results and "false positives."
Upon analysis, MSP found that there were approximately 3,250 THC confirmed tests that might have been compromised. As a result of the compromise, they halted the current processing of samples and will refer future testing to a private, accredited lab for those services.
For those Michigan drivers who were arrested, prosecuted and possibly convicted (by plea or by trial) of OWI/Marijuana in the 3 ½ years (March 2019 to August 2022) affected, what do they do? For starters, they might want to contact an experienced DUI/OWI defense attorney to see about relief in the form of a plea withdrawal, a removal of conviction, or motion for new trial.
Obviously, Michigan prosecutors and police may resist efforts to vacate convictions. They might argue that other evidence supports the conviction (i.e., poor driving, failures on Standardized Field Sobriety Tests). However, judges may be less than sympathetic to these arguments knowing the police lab analysis was faulty and was prone to false positives. Finding a skilled, successful OWI Defense Attorney to fight for their rights certainly might be the difference between a clean record and the status quo. This is especially pronounced for people who suffered a loss of license, or loss of freedom, due to an OWI Marijuana conviction during this time period.
Geherin Law Group specializes in OWI/DUI defense in Southeastern Michigan, and would be happy to review your case and see what relief might be available. Daniel T. Geherin, a criminal attorney in Washtenaw County has a 25-year track record of success in litigating DUI cases---first as a prosecutor, then as a defense attorney. He's won countless pre-trial motions throughout Washtenaw County on issues ranging from an illegal stop, to illegal arrest, to improper administration of tests, to operation issues, to scientific challenges. He's also won many trials on drunk driving cases, and verifies those results on his website with a case number. You'll also notice a truckload of 5-star reviews from OWI clients who have been the proud benefactor of his litigation skills in the courtroom.
If a loved one or you had an OWI/Marijuana case between 2019-2022 and want to talk about your options, please contact us online, or call us 24/7 at (734) 263-2780. Let us put our extensive DUI litigation experience to work for you to right the wrongs caused by MSP errors.
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