Defense lawyers told a jury in New York pot was not a factor when their teenage client crashed his car in a high-speed accident, even though he admitted to smoking the drug hours before the crash.
Joseph Beer of Queens, New York faces 25 years in prison if convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide, Newsday reported. Beer was 17-years-old in October 2012 when he crashed his Subaru Impreza while traveling at speeds exceeding 100 mph down Southern Parkway, according to CBS. The car split in two, ejecting everyone inside. Three friends Beer had known since childhood died in the crash.
Beer admitted to smoking pot a couple of hours before the crash, but his lawyers argue that pot does not affect Beer, a habitual smoker, the same way as it would affect an occasional smoker.
"If you are a frequent user, you do build up a tolerance. And the marijuana has less effect on your cognitive abilities, which are the abilities you need to drive a car," defense attorney Todd Greenberg told CBS.
As pot legalization starts gaining ground around the country, states have struggled to define what too high to drive looks like. Studies produce conflicting results on the level of impairment marijuana has on drivers. THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, can remain in high levels in the blood stream for days after use, making it difficult to test when a driver has had too much to smoke.