DENVER — A Denver woman has been acquitted of driving stoned, even though she tested nearly four times above the state’s legal limit for marijuana.
Melanie Brinegar’s blood came back at 19 nanograms, the state’s legal limit is 5 nanograms. “5 nanograms is not logical, it`s not fair to medical patients,” said Brinegar.
The 29-year-old was pulled over in June of 2014 for an expired license plate tag. “He (police officer) smelled marijuana, I told him I`m a medical marijuana patient,” said Brinegar.
In fact, Brinegar moved to Colorado two years ago from Indiana so that she could legally access medical marijuana.
“I’m constantly in pain if I don’t use cannabis,” said Brinegar.
The Denver woman works at a medical marijuana dispensary and was heading to work when Westminster police said she failed a roadside sobriety test.
But Brinegar’s attorney, Colin McCallin, convinced a Jefferson County jury that Brinegar’s roadside results wouldn’t be unusual for a sober person and insisted she wasn’t impaired when she was stopped.
“She wasn`t weaving, she wasn`t involved in an accident, she wasn`t driving too slow,” said McCallin.
Brinegar testified she uses medical marijuana for back pain and wouldn’t be able to drive without it, “Just causes pain because of the pressure on my back without using cannabis.”
McCallin said his client was offered a plea deal on a lesser count but she refused because she would’ve had to give up medical marijuana for up to two years.
“I knew I wasn’t guilty,” said Brinegar, who added, “I’ve been driving and I’ve had no issues. I have people drive with me and they see that I’m one of the most careful drivers that they are with, and I use cannabis daily.”