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A driver tested at 54 times the legal limit for marijuana intoxication, police say

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Results from a blood test on a driver arrested in May by the Washington State Patrol show he had 54 times the legal limit for marijuana's most active ingredient in his bloodstream -- the highest level recorded in Washington state in at least eight years, our affiliate KOMO reported.

Heather Axtman of the State Patrol says a trooper began looking for the driver, a 53-year-old Lynnwood man, after witnesses called to report he had been involved in a hit-and-run crash at 175th Street and Interstate 5 near the King-Snohomish county line about 6 p.m. on May 20.

The witnesses continued to follow the driver until a state trooper and a Lynnwood police officer could pull him over.

The driver showed signs of intoxication - slurred speech and difficulty in standing up outside his vehicle - so the trooper obtained a warrant for a blood draw and took the man into custody.

In July, the State Patrol's toxicology lab tested the driver's blood and found the THC level to be 270 nanograms, which is 54 times the legal limit of five nanograms for driving. THC is the main active mind-altering ingredient found in the cannabis plant.

"I spoke to the Washington State Patrol toxicology lab and they told me this is the highest THC concentration that they've ever seen since at least 2009," Axtman said.

She said the driver's heavily intoxicated state created a "dangerous situation."

Check out more about the changing laws about driving while high:

Driving while high

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"We are just thankful that we were able to get him off the road safely without any other incidents," Axtman said.

She said the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office is currently deciding what charges to file against the man.

The State Patrol said in a statement that impaired driving is one of the leading factors in Washington state traffic deaths.

In 2015, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission says marijuana-positive drivers were involved in 91 of the state's 499 fatal crashes.

Washington voters made recreational marijuana legal in 2012.

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