The Massachusetts decided Commonwealth v. Davis today further defining the law as it related to OUI marijuana in Massachusetts. The Davis decision involved the issue of when the police have probable cause to arrest someone for OUI marijuana.
The SJC found that the judge correctly denied the motion to suppress finding that the officer’s observations met the standard of probable cause need to make an arrest. The SJC acknowledged that it is difficult to detect impairment by marijuana since there are not validated field sobriety tests. However, the court indicated that a judge is permitted to rely on the officer’s observations. The SJC held that the officer can testify about the driving, the odor of marijuana and subjective observations of the individual’s appearance and condition. The SJC noted that the testimony was that the defendant admitted to smoking, had slow coordination and difficulty focusing. The Court contrasted the Davis case with its other decision in Commonwealth v. Daniels where the it found not reasonable suspicion when the there was no testimony that the defendant’s alertness, judgment or ability to respond promptly had been impacted.
The Davis decision is the first case from the SJC on probable cause for OUI marijuana and the Court is likely to have to readdress this issue in future cases. The Court declined to further extend its decision in Commonwealth v. Gerhardt to call into question the lack of studied method to determine impairment by marijuana.