Interviewer: If I have a case, what’s the first thing I should do? Should I contact an attorney first or should I start looking for all that paperwork?
Brian Sloan: Probably the first thing to do is contact me, and we can walk through it because it is somewhat complicated. People don’t understand the difference between the marijuana THC and the metabolite of THC. Some people think the Arizona Supreme Court has overturned marijuana DUI convictions, or have said that marijuana DUI offenses aren’t really crimes; that’s not true. It is this very limited ruling saying that if you solely had carboxy-THC without the parent drug of THC in your system after your blood or urine was tested, then that is not a crime.
Now, many people have the active ingredient of marijuana, which is THC, as well as carboxy-THC in their system. Those people will not be able to get their conviction overturned. It is only if you have carboxy-THC and no other impairing drugs or medications in your system.
Interviewer: When it’s broken down, does that depend on an individual for how long that takes?
Brian Sloan: It does depend on how a person metabolizes the drugs. If someone smokes marijuana, they will get active THC in their system; that’s what makes them high. That’s what makes them feel good. The active THC stays in a person’s system for usually about a day or two. It is then metabolized into hydroxy-THC which is still an active metabolite of marijuana, and that will only stay in a person’s system for a few hours. Then that is metabolized into carboxy-THC, which is inactive and can stay in a person’s system for upwards of 45 days, but usually around 30 days.
Here’s the important thing to note: it doesn’t matter if you told the officer that you smoked marijuana, even if you told the officer that you just got done smoking marijuana. What matters is what was in the person’s system. Did they have carboxy-THC in their blood or urine test results, or did they have active THC in their blood or urine test results? We don’t necessarily care what they told the officer, even if they told the officer that they told the officer that they felt really impaired, even if they told the officer that they still felt that they were high while driving. What matters are the test results.
Interviewer: What about with the DMV? Are there any other factors or does it work the same way with the DMV? Do they look at that sort of evidence?
Brian Sloan: The motor vehicle division is going to be something different. A person usually loses their license for 90 days for being suspected of DUI. That isn’t necessarily going to change. We’re probably not going to get anything like that overturned. If a person was convicted of DUI for drugs for having solely carboxy-THC in their system and their license is revoked for one year, that is something that we should be able to get overturned. That is something that we will be asking the courts to overturn because they should not be convicted of something where it involves carboxy-THC, and therefore they should not have their license revoked for something they should never have been convicted or charged with.
If a person refuses the blood or urine test at the request of an officer and they end up with their license being suspended for one year, it’s not very likely that is something we will be able to overturn. It is a separate issue whether they refused or not.
Interviewer: Is there anything else that you would like to mention in regard to the new ruling or metabolites?
Brian Sloan: There’s an issue that this case brings up: when someone is charged with being impaired to the slightest degree, as opposed to being charged with DUI drugs itself. I do believe that we can get those cases overturned where someone has pled guilty to count one of being impaired to the slightest degree by the use of alcohol, drugs, medications, vapor-releasing substances, or a combination thereof, when the only evidence that the prosecutor had was carboxy-THC, maybe in combination with low levels of alcohol.
When we are talking about the documents that we need in order to attempt to overturn the conviction, what we’re really looking for is that the person pled guilty to Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381(A)(3); that is going to be our best chance of getting the conviction overturned if the person only had carboxy-THC in their system. If the person pled guilty or was convicted of Arizona Revised Statute 28-1381(A)(1), I still believe that we can get that conviction overturned if the only evidence is carboxy-THC, maybe in combination with low levels of alcohol, but it might be a little bit more of an argument through the courts.