By Melissa Garcia
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Lakewood man accused of driving under the influence of marijuana has been acquitted of charges.
A blood test showed that Ralph Banks, 27, had well over the legal limit of THC in his system. The man’s attorney, however, said that his client was perfectly capable of driving.
The jury deliberated less than 30 minutes Friday at the Jefferson County Courthouse to come back with a verdict of not guilty.
“It’s not like alcohol,” said Banks’ attorney Rob Corry. “Marijuana is different. The standards are not one-size-fits-all.”
A Lakewood police officer pulled over Banks in March 2015 after seeing that the car he was driving had a headlight out.
After Banks took a voluntary roadside test, the officer believed that he was under the influence of cannabis. Banks was arrested and charged with DUI.
“It was a nightmare,” said Banks. “It was the worst experience of my life.”
He also submitted to a blood test which found the level of THC in his blood to be 7.9 nanograms per milliliter. The legal limit to drive is five nanograms per milliliter.
Yet, after a full-day trial and multiple witnesses including police officers, the jury found Banks not guilty.
“He’s a responsible consumer. And I’m just glad that a jury of his peers in Jefferson County agreed that he was being responsible and agreed that he was not impaired, even to the slightest degree,” said Corry.
Corry called the verdict a victory not just for his client, but for Colorado.
“Now with this case, it’s perfectly legal to get behind the wheel after consuming marijuana as long as you’re not impaired,” said Corry. “And that’s the key. You can do it if you’re not impaired. If you’re impaired, do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle.”
In a statement, Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir told CBS4, “These are difficult cases to prosecute, but we continue to be concerned about the safety of the public. Our current law is not strong enough to effectively hold people accountable.”
A DA spokesperson said that many marijuana DUI cases end up with a not guilty verdict. The spokesperson said the reasons behind that issue were complex.