Weed Watch

Weed Watch
Posted by CN Staff on August 04, 2005 at 14:33:33 PT
By Jordan Smith
Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin, Texas -- In a recent ruling, the Michigan Court of Appeals injected a little bit of sense in the otherwise nonsensical rush to pass zero-tolerance "drugged driving" laws, opining that the presence of a marijuana metabolite in a person's system is not sufficient evidence to support a drugged driving conviction. Michigan is one of 10 states with "zero tolerance" drugged driving laws on the books, reports the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
In the case at issue, prosecutors sought to convict a woman who tested positive for the nonpsychoactive marijuana metabolite THC-COOH (an inert substance created when the body processes tetrahydrocannibinol into a soluble form) after a car accident. Prosecutors argued that under the zero-tolerance law it wasn't necessary to prove that she was impaired by the substance at the time of the accident, but only that she had an illegal substance in her system. Not so, said the court, citing a ruling from the state's highest court opining that lawmakers didn't "intend to impose strict liability on an individual" involved in a driving-related accident.In other news, NORML recently released its second so-called Truth Report, an attempt to debunk federal drug warriors' claims about the harms associated with marijuana use. The report was produced in response to an "open letter" penned by the White House Office of the National Drug Control Policy in November 2002, encouraging prosecutors and other law enforcers to "aggressively prosecute" marijuana violators. Unfortunately, reports NORML, the letter was also plagued by a host of "half-truths and outright lies" propagated in order to strengthen the government's tough-on-drugs stance and to justify policies that result in the annual arrest of more than 650,000 people on minor marijuana possession charges. Since 2002, the federal "anti-marijuana propaganda campaign has continued to take on an increasingly alarmist and extremist tone, arguably crossing over any reasonable line of probity," reads the report. "The Bush Administration's latest rhetoric does not qualify as mere exaggeration; they are flat-out lying to the American public about marijuana." Among the myths NORML rebuts in this year's report is federal drug czar John Walters' ad nauseam assertion that 60% of teenagers in drug treatment programs "have a primary marijuana diagnosis," which to the feds "means that addiction to marijuana by our youth exceeds their addiction rates for alcohol, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, Ecstasy and all other drugs combined." That assertion is "purposely misleading," charges NORML, pointing out that although admissions to drug treatment programs has "increased dramatically" since the mid-1990s, "this rise in marijuana admissions is due to a proportional increase in the number of people arrested by law enforcement for marijuana violations" who are "subsequently referred to drug treatment by way of the criminal justice system" as a way to avoid serving time in jail. Since 1995, the proportion of admissions to drug treatment programs from all other sources has declined. According to a June Drug and Alcohol Services Information Systems report put out by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, fully 58% of referrals for marijuana-related admissions to drug treatment programs come from the criminal justice system. NORML reports that since 1990 there have been 7.2 million marijuana-related arrests nationwide, 90% of which are for simple possession. Further, according to FBI statistics for 2003, there were 755,186 total marijuana related arrests, a number that far exceeds the number for all other violent crimes (597,026), which include rape, robbery, and murder. "NORML believes there is nothing to be gained by exaggerating claims of marijuana's harms," reads the report. "On the contrary, by overstating marijuana's potential risk, America's policy-makers and law enforcement community undermine their credibility and ability to effectively educate the public of legitimate harms associated with more dangerous drugs." Speaking of more dangerous drugs, as of Aug. 1, all over-the-counter medicines that contain pseudoephedrine or ephedrine  such as Tylenol Sinus, Sudafed, Claritin-D, and Alka-Seltzer Cold  must be displayed in locked cabinets or placed behind the counter, away from customers, pursuant to a new state law passed this spring. HB 164, authored by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, is aimed at cracking down on the manufacture of methamphetamine, of which a key ingredient is ephedrine or the more readily obtained pseudoephedrine, found in many cold medicines. In addition to medicine relocation, the law places limits on the amount of the drugs a person can purchase in a single day  up to two packages of certain cold medicines or up to six grams of pseudoephedrine or ephedrine. Customers must be over 16 and show photo identification to buy the medicine, and must sign a logbook kept by the retailer. Retailers who violate the new law are subject to a $1,000 per day administrative penalty, up to a maximum $20,000 fine. The law does not apply to medicines in liquid or gel capsule forms. Source: Austin Chronicle (TX)Author: Jordan SmithPublished: August 5, 2005Copyright: 2005 Austin Chronicle Corp.Contact: louis auschron.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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