Things are a little up in the air in Washington these days—police want to hold on to their marijuana enforcement powers, but are at a loss on how to do so. Evidence of their confusion comes in the reports of several people being arrested for having a “green film” on their tongues, something the cops say is evidence of using marijuana.
Mike Simmons was on his lunch break when he was pulled over by Kent police.
“As soon as the officer came to the vehicle, he asked me to stick out my tongue,” Simmons told a local reporter.
Upon reportedly seeing a “green film” on Simmons’ tongue, the officer promptly arrested him and took him to jail. There he was asked to submit to a blood test to confirm marijuana use. He denied the blood draw, saying he wanted a lawyer present.
Simmons is thus far out $5,000 for the incident and has yet to go to court. He says he was stone sober at the time of the arrest. He had smoked marijuana three days prior, but not since. Because Washington’s new law dictates a driver can’t have more than 5 nanograms of THC in their blood, and because THC (the active component in marijuana) takes so long to clear the body, any blood test may have put Simmons over the legal limit.
The testing of active THC in the bloodstream indicating impairment vs. passive THC residue indicating previous use is still a large concern for legal marijuana smokers.
“I just feel like the system they have is unfair,” said Simmons. And he’s right. Law enforcement has no scientific evidence that marijuana causes a green film to form on the tongue. Ask any pot user whether this green tongue phenomenon has any truth to it, and they’ll laugh (because the theory is laughable, not because they are marijuana users).
Only one prior case indicates any relationship between marijuana and a green tongue. State v. Baity (2000) featured a defendant who smoked marijuana and also had a green tongue. But there is no direct cause and effect relationship here. The defendant may have also liked Sour Apple Jolly Ranchers.
Apparently Simmons isn’t the only person who has been hit with the “green tongue” accusation. Other officers have used this to establish probable cause to arrest despite their being no proof of a link. It seems as if law enforcement are looking for excuses to arrest folks on pot charges and are making up the rules as they go.
If you are arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana or even DUI, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your charges and the legal options available to you.