David Rudoi Esq.
Jan 9, 2012
According to a recent study by Huestis et al, marijuana metabolite levels often peak several days after a person has stopped using. The study monitored marijuana users’s THC-COOH levels (the primary method by which courts test for marijuana use) over 30 day periods of abstinence and found that, in 40% of cases, users tested at peak levels after several days of abstinence. The study also showed that heavy marijuana users can test positive, at levels upwards of 50 ng, after having already tested negative and without having used in the interim period.
The implications of this study are significant. They show that rising THC-COOH levels are not a legitimate indicator of continued use, and should no longer be treated as such. With these findings, we can say with a high degree of confidence that people on probation or awaiting sentencing are being punished for positive tests, even though they have not reinitiated use of marijuana. Needless to say, this can have severe, far-ranging consequences. Courts must be aware of this possibility and act in a manner that takes into consideration the uncertainty of these results, in order to avoid punishing people for an act that they did not commit.