NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - March 13, 2008

NORML's Weekly News Bulletin - March 13, 2008
Posted by CN Staff on March 13, 2008 at 14:26:44 PT
Weekly Press Release
Source: NORML
 California: Counties File Briefs Seeking To Overturn State Medi-Pot Law March 13, 2008 - San Diego, CA, USASan Diego, CA: Lawyers for the counties of San Diego and San Bernardino filed legal briefs this week urging the Fourth District Court of Appeals to overturn a 2006 ruling upholding the legality of California’s medical cannabis law.
The counties argue that they will "suffer harm if they are required to comply with [the state’s] medical marijuana laws." For years, both counties have refused to issue identification cards for state qualified patients – arguing that doing so would be in violation of federal drug laws. Under California state law, county health departments are required to establish a voluntary registry and identification card program for authorized medical cannabis patients.A previous San Diego Superior Court ruling had determined that the state’s ID card program was not in "positive conflict" with federal drug laws.Oral arguments in the case are expected later this year.The case is County of San Diego v San Diego NORML.For more information, please contact Keith Stroup, NORML Legal Counsel, at (202) 483-5500.DL:  Rhode Island: Legislature Considers Authorizing Medical Cannabis ‘Compassion Centers’  March 13, 2008 - Providence, RI, USAProvidence, RI: Rhode Island lawmakers are considering legislation that would make the state the first in the nation to authorize non-profit organizations to provide medical cannabis to state-authorized patients.As introduced, House Bill 7888 and Senate Bill 2693 would allow the state to license non-profit organizations to cultivate and dispense medical cannabis to qualified patients. The proposal states, "A compassion center registered under this section may acquire, possess, cultivate, manufacture, deliver, transfer, transport, supply, or dispense marijuana, or related supplies and educational materials, to registered qualifying patients and their registered primary caregivers who have designated it as one of their primary caregivers."Under state law, qualified patients (or their designated primary caregiver) may possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis or cultivate up to 12 plants for medical purposes. An estimated 360 patients and 330 caregivers are currently registered with the state.If enacted, HB 7888 and SB 2693 would also amend state law to allow for registered patient and caregivers to engage in not-for-profit transactions of cannabis. The proposals would also allow physicians in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut to recommend cannabis therapy for Rhode Island patients.Rhode Island is one of twelve states that allows for the physician-supervised use of medical cannabis. For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at (202) 483-5500 or visit the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition at: Additional information on HB 7888 and SB 2693 is available from NORML’s "Take Action" Center at: Zero Tolerance DUID Laws Don’t Deter ‘Drugged Driving,’ Study Says   March 13, 2008 - Linkoping, SwedenLinkoping, Sweden: Laws prohibiting the operation of a motor vehicle by drivers with any detectable level of a controlled substance or inactive drug metabolite in their blood or urine do not deter incidences of drugged driving or reduce recidivism by chronic offenders, according to data published in the March issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.Investigators at Sweden’s National Board of Forensic Medicine examined the impact of the nation’s decade-old zero tolerance per se law on incidences of DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) arrests and re-arrests over a four-year period (2001-2004). Of those motorists prosecuted for DUID, they reported that 68 percent were re-arrested. "Zero tolerance laws do not deter people from impaired driving judging by the high re-arrest rates," authors concluded.Under Swedish law, motorists face criminal sanctions if they operate a vehicle with any detectable of an illicit drug in their blood. Evidence of driver impairment is not necessary to convict a person under the federal DUID statute. Motorists who are determined to have negligible levels of inactive drug metabolites in their urine may be charged with "use of a banned substance," but not DUID.Prior studies reported that the passage of Sweden’s zero tolerance law has led to a ten-fold increase in the number of cases submitted by police for toxicological analysis, but has had no impact on reducing incidences of drugged driving. Among those drivers charged under Sweden’s DUID law, nearly 60 percent tested positive for the presence of amphetamines. Less than five percent of drivers tested positive for the presence of THC alone.In recent years, several US states have enacted similar zero tolerance laws. Critics of these laws argue that the statutes inappropriately classify sober drivers as ‘impaired’ and may criminally punish non-impaired drivers for their previous, non-driving related activities."While we all support the goal of keeping impaired motorists off the road – regardless of whether they are impaired from alcohol, prescription drugs, or illicit substances – the enactment of so-called zero tolerance per se legislation is inappropriate, illogical, and does nothing to deter individuals from driving under the influence of illicit substances," NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. "At best, these laws are an inflexible response to a complex social problem. At worst, they are a cynical attempt to misuse the traffic safety laws to prosecute illicit drug consumers per se."For more information, please contact Paul Armentanio, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul norml.orgFull text of the study, "High re-arrest rates among drug-impaired drivers despite zero-tolerance legislation," appears in Accident Analysis and Prevention. Additional information regarding marijuana use and on-road accident risk is available in the NORML report "Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review," available online at: DL: NORML Foundation (DC)Published: March 13, 2008Copyright: 2008 NORML Contact: norml Website: NORML Archives 
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