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Charges for Vaping THC (Marijuana) and Driving in MN Drug Related Offenses, DWI

Charges for Vaping THC (Marijuana) and Driving in MN

1 year ago by Brian
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Getting arrested for vaping THC (medical marijuana) and driving in MN can lead to penalties – penalties that require an attorney’s help. While THC or medical marijuana is legal in Minnesota, law enforcement officials consider vaping the substance while driving a danger and safety risk.

Refer to §169A.20[1](2)-(3) to learn more about Minnesota’s DWI driving law. According to legislation, a person who drives a motor vehicle in Minnesota cannot be intoxicated.

If you’re stopped by the police in this condition, you’ll be charged with a DWI.

According to state statistics, almost 28,000 motorists were arrested for DWIs in 2019 – that’s about 77 DWIs per day.


What Exactly Is THC?

Understanding the nature of THC helps to define the chemical. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive substance that makes people high when they smoke marijuana or vape this derivative. 


How THC Is Used as a Medicinal

When used as medical marijuana, THC is frequently vaped to treat chronic pain. It may also be used by people who have HIV/AIDs, muscle spasms and multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Epileptic patients and people with glaucoma may also vape the substance to reduce seizures or gain pain relief.


How THC Impairs Drivers

While THC may help people cope with chronic pain and specific medical ailments, using it while driving can lead to accidents. Not only can THC impair your judgment and reduce your motor coordination and skills, but it can also affect your focus and slow down your reaction time.

When you drive, you need to totally place your focus on the road and your surroundings. This means you need to be ready to stop suddenly or adapt to changing patterns in traffic. If you vape THC and drive, you cannot stay entirely focused.


Why THC Users Prefer Vaping

People who vape THC like the fact that vape pens are discreet. However, that won’t help you if it affects how you drive. A vape pen used for weed or THC is hand-held and consists of a battery, which is attached to a cartridge that is filled with THC or a cannabis concentrate. 

The pens vaporize cannabis rather than burn it, so they don’t produce ash or toxins, which makes vaping cleaner and less messy.

Things can get rather confusing when it comes to charging a driver for vaping THC. That is because of THC’s chemistry and the current legislation.

So, it’s important to look at the fundamental facts. 


How THC Differs in Its Chemical Properties

Marijuana and hemp are basically the same plants. However, marijuana has higher amounts of Delta-9 THC, an intoxicant. Hemp may have THC, but those numbers usually fall under 0.3%.

Hemp growers, therefore, cultivate plants called Delta 8 and Delta 10 marijuana.


Delta 8

Delta 8, which is extracted from hemp, is supposed to contain under 0.3% THC, so, technically, it is not defined as marijuana. Instead, growers call this substance “marijuana light.” This form of THC is considered legal in Minnesota.


Delta 9

Delta 9 THC represents the main psychoactive drug active in marijuana. It is also found in hemp, but marijuana contains notably higher amounts.

Minnesota’s cannabis laws currently permit the sale of hemp-originated Delta 9 THC. So buying and using this form of THC is legal.

However, using Delta 9 while driving is another thing.


Delta 10

Delta 10 has virtually no Delta 9 THC (under 0.3% THC) and therefore is not classified, technically, as marijuana.

While Delta 8 and 10 seem innocuous compared to possessing marijuana, law enforcement officials do not take the same view. Field tests for sobriety do not differentiate between types of THC. They just show you have THC in your system.

Moreover, federal law supersedes state law, so it is both unsafe and illegal to drive while under the influence of cannabis, regardless of the Delta number. 

Compare this to alcohol. While alcohol is legal, you’ll also get arrested if you drink and drive.


THC Charges for Possessing and Using the Substance

Minnesota defines marijuana and direct derivatives, including oils or waxes used in vaping, as Schedule 1 controlled substances, the possession of which (under 42.5 grams) is defined as a petty misdemeanor for a first-time offender.

If you’re caught with this amount, you’ll be subject to a fine with no jail time. 

If what you have in your possession exceeds 1.4 grams (inside a car and outside the trunk), you’re subject to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Felony charges are applicable to offenders who have 42.5 grams to 10 kilograms in their car – leading to a $10,000 fine and five years imprisonment.

While it’s important to make it a practice not to drink and drive, you also want to enforce the same attitude if you vape THC. 


Contact a Woodbury, MN DWI Lawyer About Your Case Today

If you’ve been charged with a DWI, you need to consult with a Criminal defense lawyer immediately. Near Woodbury Minnesota, your go-to legal team is JS Defense. Call 651-362-9426 today.


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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney Justin M. Schiks who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a personal injury attorney.

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