Drugged-Driving Legislation Misleading and Unfair

  Drugged-Driving Legislation Misleading and Unfair

Posted by CN Staff on March 09, 2005 at 08:43:38 PT
By Paul Armentano  
Source: Athens News 

Imagine it was against the law to drive home after consuming a single glass of wine at dinner. Now imagine it was against the law to do so after having consumed a single glass of wine two weeks ago.Sound absurd? No more so than a proposal weaving its way through the Ohio Legislature that makes it a criminal offense for anyone to operate a motor vehicle if trace levels of marijuana or non-psychoactive marijuana metabolites (compounds produced from the chemical changes of a drug in the body) are present in their blood or urine.
While the expressed purpose of House Bill 8 (and its companion bill, Senate Bill 8, which the Senate recently approved by a 30-1 vote) is to target and remove drug-impaired drivers from Ohio's roadways, the reality is that this poorly worded proposal would do little to improve public safety. Rather, it would falsely categorize sober drivers as "intoxicated" simply because they had consumed an illicit substance -- particularly marijuana -- some days or weeks earlier.A case in point: John and Jane Doe attend a party. John enjoys a glass of wine while Jane takes a puff from a marijuana cigarette. The next day, Jane is pulled over while driving. She is asked to submit to a urine test and tests positive for marijuana. Under Ohio's proposed law, Jane would be arrested for "driving under the influence of drugs," despite the fact that any impairment she experienced from smoking marijuana would have worn off hours earlier.That's because marijuana's main metabolite, THC-COOH, remains detectable in one's urine for days and sometimes weeks after past use. In addition, marijuana's primary intoxicating ingredient, THC, may remain detectable at low levels in the blood for up to 48 hours. At most, someone who smokes cannabis is impaired as a driver for only a few hours, certainly not for days or weeks. To treat all marijuana smokers as if they are impaired, even when the substance's psychoactive effects have long worn off, is illogical and unfair.In addition, Ohio already has sufficient laws on the books prosecuting and punishing drivers who operate a motor vehicle if they are "under the influence" of illicit drugs. Under Section 4511.19 of Ohio's Revised Code, motorists face up to six months in jail if they drive "while under the influence of a drug of abuse." By contrast, HB 8 seeks to create a new crime of "drugged driving" that is divorced from impairment and that would jail motorists for simply having consumed an illicit substance at some prior, unspecified date. While Ohioans certainly do not wish to condone illegal drug use, it's also clear that this proposal seeks to misuse the state's traffic-safety laws to target illicit drug use in general.At a minimum, Ohio's newly proposed law targeting drugged drivers should identify "parent drugs" (the identifiable psychoactive compound of a controlled substance), not inactive drug metabolites. Further, the law must enact scientifically sound cut-off levels that correlate drug concentrations in the blood to identifiable impairment of performance, similar to the 0.08 BAC standard that now exists for drunk driving. As presently written, HB 8 is neither a safe nor sensible way to identify impaired drivers; it is an attempt to misuse the traffic-safety laws in order to identify and prosecute marijuana smokers per se.We all support the goal of keeping impaired drivers off the road, regardless of whether the driver is impaired from alcohol or other drugs. Yet, HB 8 and its Senate companion bill neither addresses the problem nor offers a legitimate solution and should be rejected by Ohio's lawmakers.Editor's note: Paul Armentano is the senior policy analyst for NORML and the NORML Foundation in Washington, D.C. Complete Title: Drugged-Driving Legislation a Misleading and Unfair Tactic To Go After Ohio Pot Users Newshawk: Paul Armentano Source: Athens News, The (OH)Author: Paul Armentano Published: March 7, 2005Copyright: 2005 Athens NewsContact: news athensnews.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Bill is Excessive Targets 'Drugged Driving'

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Comment #24 posted by FoM on March 10, 2005 at 10:27:52 PT
Thanks! It's good that some seniors are kicking a drug habit but where is the medical marijuana story we are waiting for I wonder?Please Contact AARP:
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Comment #23 posted by ekim on March 10, 2005 at 10:21:17 PT
how many of the 1.25 million use Med Cannabis
March 2005 Issue
Your Health
Calling It Quits
There’s a ‘hidden epidemic’ of older drug addicts. The good news is they’re kicking the habit and giving back.
By Reed Karaim///calling it quits -------Stephan Arndt, a University of Iowa psychiatry professor said "we are at the leading edge of a wave " about 1.25 million people age 55 and older used illegal drugs sometime during 2003 "then with the boomers the incidence of use is higher which is going to magnify the whole thing"By 2020 4.4 million Americans age 50 and older will have drug and alcohol problems, estimates the US substance abuse and mental health services administration. No where in the story is any mention of Medical use of Cannabis. but Heroin -Crack- alcohol- painpills--are mentioned.
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Comment #22 posted by charmed quark on March 10, 2005 at 05:14:09 PT
These laws have nothing to do with public safety
If someone is impaired and driving, I want them off the road. I don't care if it is due to alchohol, lack of sleep, an OTC drug, a fight with a girlfriend, talking on the cellphone, or a bee that's gotten into the car. A cop should stop someone who is driving like they might be impaired.We have some pretty good, computer-based tests for impairment. They've use some of these for pilots. Cops could carry these on a notebook and have someone take the test when they stop them. They offer a reasonably objective standard for measuring impairments that impact safe driving. If drivers fail the test, they should be taken off the road for everyone's safety.The source of the impairment would only matter if we want to sanction someone for their impairment. Some impairments are not avoidable, like the bee in the car. Of course, if it happened more than once, a judge might order you to put screens in your car windows to stop it from happening :-)
The role of judicial proceedings should be to examine the cause, figure if it is likely to happen again, and if so, what to do about it.Drug use, fights, etc., are all things a person is responsible for. If it happens more than once, a person should probably have their driving privledges restricted while they take a training course. And so on.But this isn't how we do it. We only care about impairment from drugs and alchohol because they are evil. Everything else is OK. So this law is the logical conclusion. It has nothing to do with impairment, everything to do with cultural laws.Write to your state reps and ask them to focus on real impairment and public safety, not get distracted by holy wars.-CQ
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Comment #21 posted by ekim on March 09, 2005 at 21:50:06 PT
observer's book, now in print
Drug War Propaganda (observer's book, now in print)
[ Post Comment ]OB do you know anyone going to the Norml confence or the MPP meeting. I have been trying to think of how to get this book to Leap as some group could donate one to every Leapspeaker and these large groups would be a great place to show the book off.
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Comment #20 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 17:42:38 PT
I believe laughter and music are the best medicines. 
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Comment #19 posted by gloovins on March 09, 2005 at 17:34:38 PT
There is an old saying...
"The world is yours if you can laugh at life...";)
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 17:30:16 PT
Turning Red! That's so funny! Thanks!
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Comment #17 posted by gloovins on March 09, 2005 at 17:25:24 PT
The state of Ohio
So you must love Ohio more and more each day FoM, uh?You must be turning red...ha! Pun aside, wow, each & each day a part of our nation, sometimes a city or maybe a state becomes more like a police state. Our liberties erode like chalk on cement. Why this merciless, constant condemenation of the cannabis user? We are a peaceful peoples and they don't bother us en masse when they know they are outnumbered and cannot literally write the tickets fast enough, you know? Because we peacefully assemble (sound familiar?), by nature, when ingesting cannabis plant, yes.Alcohol & tobacco kill though remember that mr & mrs government person entity thing.Death vs peaceful living?You decide. That's freedom.
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Comment #16 posted by charmed quark on March 09, 2005 at 16:15:44 PT
My neighboring state already has this law
I live right next to the state line and drive in Pennsylvania quite a bit. They have this stupid drugged driving law in place. I don't use cannabis. But I do use Marinol. So I would probably be charged with drug driving if trace levels of THC metabolite were found in my blood. I suppose if this ever happened to me I could fight it and win, but it would be expensive and take a long time. Does anybody know of anyone charged with drugged driving because of Marinol?-CQ
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 15:45:34 PT

NORML: Stop The AARP From Killing A MMJ Survey
Stop The AARP From Killing A Medical Marijuana Survey Take Action Now! Friend:You may remember that the AARP announced this past October that it would be publishing a survey in it's magazine regarding senior citizens' support for the use of medical marijuana among senior citizens. The results of the survey were overwhelming. Among Americans 55 years or older, 72% supported the right of patients to use medical marijuana, and 55% said they would obtain marijuana for themselves or a loved one who needed it. For details visit: details of this important survey were scheduled to be released in an article appearing in last February's issue of AARP The Magazine. Yet, to date, no article has been published. According to media reports, the AARP decided not to publish the article primarily because of pressure from outside anti-drug and right wing media watchdog groups.The survey's findings illustrate that medical marijuana is an important issue for older Americans, yet the AARP appears to be paying more attention to the concerns of anti-drug groups than those of it's own members. In an attempt to persuade the AARP to reverse their position, NORML has teamed with the Drug Policy Alliance in asking our supporters to write the AARP and ask that they publish the medical marijuana article (written by noted L.A. Times reporter Eric Bailey) as originally planned.My personal view; one of the primary reasons I ascribe to the absurd staying power of marijuana prohibition is that most policy makers operate from a myth of consensus - that a majority of voters do not support major marijuana law reforms. With your help today, please help NORML shatter this freedom-stymieing "myth of consensus."Please take two minutes to send a pre-written letter to AARP CEO Bill Novelli urging him to print the article and the results of the AARP's medical marijuana survey by visiting: you for your help in this important matter.Regards,Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director NORML***Drug War Zealots Pressure AARP To Kill MMJ Story: Americans’ Attitudes on Medical Marijuana: Oldness: Potheads Hijack AARP?: Pot To Porn To AARP: 
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 13:55:58 PT

NM Medical Marijuana Bill Moves To House Committee
WHAT: Medical Marijuana Bill To Receive A House Hearing Tomorrow!WHERE: New Mexico House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee State Capitol Santa Fe, NM 87501WHEN: Thursday, March 10, 2005NORML is pleased to announce that SB 785, The Lynne Pierson Compassionate Use Act, continues to move through the New Mexico Legislature. Tomorrow, March 10 at 1:30, the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 785, which would enact statewide legal protections shielding seriously ill patients who use marijuana therapeutically from state prosecution.If you have not done so already, please take a moment today to write your Representative and tell him or her to support Senate Bill 785. Pre-written letters are available online from NORML at: addition, if your Representative serves on the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, it is vital that you call him or her TODAY, and voice your support for medical marijuana. The committee is expected to vote on this proposal immediately following the hearing.The following Representatives serve on the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee:Representative Gail C. Beam (D-NM 18th), Chair - (505) 986-4844 Representative Irvin Harrison (D-NM 5th), Vice-Chair - (505) 986-4464 Representative Thomas A. Anderson (R-NM 29th) - (505) 986-4226 Representative Keith Gardner (R-NM 66th) - (505) 986-4211 Representative Joni M Gutierrez (D-NM 33rd) - (505) 986-4234 Representative Dianne Miller Hamilton (R-NM 38th) - (505) 986-4221 Representative Al Park (D-NM 26th) - (505) 986-4234The large outpouring of support from people like yourself was largely responsible for the bill passing overwhelmingly in the Senate. We hope that we can count on your support once again as the bill faces a vote in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.To help support NORML's state legislative efforts, please donate today at: you again for your support of NORML's legislative efforts in New Mexico.Regards,Kris Krane, Associate Director NORML Medical Marijuana Passes Senate: Endorses Three Medical Marijuana Bills:
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 13:29:40 PT

Excerpt From Article
2. LAW: IF RAICH PREVAILS, FEDERAL WAR AGAINST MEDICAL MARIJUANA IS OVER. STEVE FOX, director of government relations for the MARIJUANA POLICY PROJECT in Washington, D.C.: "Ashcroft v. Raich, the medical marijuana case on which the U.S. Supreme Court will rule this spring, is a case where medical marijuana patients have much to gain but almost nothing to lose. If Angel Raich prevails, the federal war on medical marijuana is effectively over. A government victory, on the other hand, merely preserves the status quo: patients protected under the medical marijuana laws of 10 states will retain that protection, but will remain potentially vulnerable to federal prosecution. Some have suggested that this case could overturn state medical marijuana laws, but that is incorrect." News Contact: Bruce Mirken, bruce Phone: +1-415-668-6403 (3/9/05)
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Comment #11 posted by JoeCitizen on March 09, 2005 at 12:31:51 PT

Observer - about punishers
"But thus do I counsel you, my friends: distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!"Friedrich Nietzsche from Also Sprach Zarathustra, Chapter 29German philosopher (1844 - 1900)
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Comment #10 posted by potpal on March 09, 2005 at 12:31:10 PT

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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 12:08:06 PT

I understand how you feel. For me saying the next generation is really because as hurt as we are we do see the direction it is headed very clearly. That scares me for the future even worse then the present if that makes sense.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on March 09, 2005 at 12:03:20 PT

Yes, I'm somewhat fearful.
I'm quaking in my boots. But I'm taking that "boldly" ticket...I hope it's translated fairly correctly...and running with it.If you don't hear from'll know to avoid the "boldly" and "insistance"...and "demanding" route to an anwer.I feel so weak."Perfect love casts out all fear."Counting on perfection.
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on March 09, 2005 at 11:58:46 PT

"God help the next generation"
God help this generation, too! I've knocked on "the door". I've kicked it. I'm using a battering ram now.Help me, anyone who will, please.I used to know I was a "prayer warrior". I insist that He show Himself at the door. Maybe He'll zap me. Maybe He'll open the door. The insanity of prohibition must end.Maybe I need a bullhorn to pray through. I've been patient. To say I'm beginning to feel disconcerted is putting it mildly.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 11:23:41 PT

I agree that it is the Republicans that are pushing this agenda. It is really way out of hand. Something must give soon or God help the next generation.
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Comment #5 posted by warhater on March 09, 2005 at 11:10:30 PT:

A vicious and unscientific bill indeed
The Republicans in US congress want to force this nonsense on ever state in the union with a national highway bill. Highway funds will be denied if states don't conform. I agree that it is ridiculous to charge a person who is not even under the influence with DWI.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on March 09, 2005 at 10:22:46 PT

I knew about this Bill but it didn't make it to any newspapers web sites. They returned medical marijuana to a patient in Colorado and they haven't even done an AP article about it. I've seen it on news channels online but no AP. Censorship ( the right for the public to know important things ) is getting way out of hand.
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Comment #3 posted by afterburner on March 09, 2005 at 10:15:38 PT

Why No Media Info on Who Were the 30 & Who the 1
I want to know who voted for this vicious and unscientific bill, Senate Bill 8 in Ohio, and who was the lone hero to oppose it. Why the media blackout, even on the Internet? Surely, someone knows. We deserve to know the truth. No more room for politicians to shoot and hide. We demand accountability!
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Comment #2 posted by observer on March 09, 2005 at 09:57:30 PT

Typical 'Drug Warrior' Math = Lies
Another excellent article by Paul Armentano. The prohibitionists and government worshippers aren't interested in keeping imparied drivers off the road, obviously. They are more interested in expanding their raw power as far as plausibly possible. 'Fighting drugged drivers' is as good an excuse as any for them. So lemme guess. These moral mighty-men in government who proposed this freedom-shrinking police state expansion, they are willing to let peaceful adults use cannabis if they willingly give up their driver's license, and happily renounce driving, in favour of personal cannabis use? Of course not. After years of observation, I have come to the conclusion that many prohibitionists are dedicated punishers, they are not reasonable people. Punishers (prohibitionists) seek to expand their use of force coercion and punishment. Their (the punishers') story is as follows.They have ways to punish, you know. Creative new methods of punishment. (Most profitable ways to punish.) And so, it is simply a matter of seeking out and discovering those who require our new ways to punish. Then the world will be a Better Place. For, you see, Bad People exist (say the punishers.) Therefore, we must seek out and punish. If the prohibitionist/punisher can appear to appeal to reason, "We're keeping the highways safe!" then so much the better. But the important point to remember is that force and coercon (punishment) are sacrosanct and never to be questioned. Because (we hear prohibitionist/punishers 'reason'), "Should we legalize Murder?!" (Whereupon punishers and prohibitionists rest their case: whatever new punishments and coercions they propose are thus justified.)

Drug War Propaganda (observer's book, now in print)
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Comment #1 posted by siege on March 09, 2005 at 09:51:46 PT

the bill if it gos will give the cops the right to profile
all marijuana smokers and fill the coffers of the city and state and cage its citizens. 
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