With Marijuana Legal in Wash. & Colo. Police Worry
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With Marijuana Legal in Wash. & Colo. Police Worry
Posted by CN Staff on November 15, 2012 at 04:31:08 PT
By Kristen Wyatt, The Associated Press
Source: Associated Press
Denver -- It’s settled. Pot, at least certain amounts of it, will soon be legal under state laws in Washington and Colorado. Now, officials in both states are trying to figure out how to keep stoned drivers off the road.Colorado’s measure doesn’t make any changes to the state’s driving-under-the-influence laws, leaving lawmakers and police to worry about its effect on road safety. “We’re going to have more impaired drivers,” warned John Jackson, police chief in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village.
Washington’s law does change DUI provisions by setting a new blood-test limit for marijuana — a limit police are training to enforce, and which some lawyers are already gearing up to challenge. “We’ve had decades of studies and experience with alcohol,” said Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. “Marijuana is new, so it’s going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it be drugs or alcohol.”Drugged driving is illegal, and nothing in the measures that Washington and Colorado voters passed this month to tax and regulate the sale of pot for recreational use by adults over 21 changes that. But law enforcement officials wonder about whether the ability to buy or possess marijuana legally will bring about an increase of marijuana users on the roads.Statistics gathered for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that in 2009, a third of fatally injured drivers with known drug test results were positive for drugs other than alcohol. Among randomly stopped weekend nighttime drivers in 2007, more than 16 percent were positive for drugs.Marijuana can cause dizziness and slowed reaction time, and drivers are more likely to drift and swerve while they’re high.Marijuana legalization activists agree people shouldn’t smoke and drive. But setting a standard comparable to blood-alcohol limits has sparked intense disagreement, said Betty Aldworth, outreach director for Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.Most convictions for drugged driving currently are based on police observations, followed later by a blood test. “There is not yet a consensus about the standard rate for THC impairment,” Aldworth said, referring to the psychoactive chemical in marijuana.Unlike portable breath tests for alcohol, there’s no easily available way to determine whether someone is impaired from recent pot use.There are different types of tests for marijuana. Many workplaces test for an inactive THC metabolite that can be stored in body fat and remain detectable weeks after use. But tests for current impairment measure for active THC in the blood, and those levels typically drop within hours.According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, peak THC concentrations are reached during the act of smoking, and within three hours, they generally fall to less than 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood — the same standard in Washington’s law, one supporters describe as roughly equivalent to the .08 limit for alcohol.Two other states — Ohio and the medical marijuana state of Nevada — have a limit of 2 nanograms of THC per milliliter. Pennsylvania’s health department has a 5-nanogram guideline that can be introduced in driving violation cases, and a dozen states, including Illinois, Arizona, and Rhode Island, have zero-tolerance policies.In Washington, police still have to observe signs of impaired driving before pulling someone over, Coon said. The blood would be drawn by a medical professional, and tests above 5 nanograms would automatically subject the driver to a DUI conviction.Supporters of Washington’s measure said they included the standard to allay fears that legalization could prompt a drugged-driving epidemic, but critics call it arbitrarily strict. They insist that medical patients who regularly use cannabis would likely fail even if they weren’t impaired.They also worry about the law’s zero-tolerance policy for those under 21. College students who wind up convicted even if they weren’t impaired could lose college loans, they argue.Jon Fox, a Seattle-area DUI attorney, said he’s interested in challenging Washington’s new standard as unconstitutional. Under due process principles, he said, people are entitled to know what activity is prohibited. If scientists can’t tell someone how much marijuana it will take for him or her to test over the threshold, how is the average pot user supposed to know?By contrast, he noted, the science on alcohol is well established. Some states publish charts estimating how many drinks it will take a person of a certain weight over a certain time to reach .08.But such a challenge to Nevada’s marijuana DUI limit failed in 2002, when the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature has broad authority to set driving standards. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review that case, said Las Vegas DUI attorney Michael Becker. “Marijuana affects everyone differently,” Becker said. “The prevailing opinion of forensic toxicologists is that a 2-nanograms standard, such as exists in Nevada, absolutely results in convictions where individuals are not actually under the influence. But the 5-nanograms standard more closely approaches the mean threshold of prevailing opinion.”Colorado’s legalization measure didn’t set a driving standard — an intentional omission by the activists who wrote it because the issue has proven divisive. Lawmakers in Colorado, which has an established medical marijuana industry, have tried but failed three times to set a THC driving limit.Drugged driving cases in Colorado were up even before the legalization vote. In 2009, the state toxicology lab obtained 791 THC-positive samples from suspected impaired drivers. Last year, it had 2,030 THC-positive samples.Colorado lawmakers are preparing to take up driving standards yet again when they convene next year. “I believe a 5-nanogram limit will save lives,” said Colorado Republican state Sen. Steve King, sponsor of previous driving-high bills.Source: Associated Press (Wire)Author: Kristen Wyatt, Associated PressPublished:  November 15, 2012Copyright: 2012 The Associated PressCannabisNews   -- Cannabis Archives 
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help 

Comment #22 posted by Hope on November 17, 2012 at 08:43:49 PT
Callousness, coldness, ignorance, and stubbornness
know no boundaries or directions.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on November 16, 2012 at 18:56:33 PT
Sinsemilla Jones
Some of the southern states are going to take more time. I don't really understand why. Rural Ohio is way different that most of the big cities in how they look at things. Sometimes I think that people that live in a big city mostly learn to tolerate people with different ideas. They understand coexistence.
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Comment #20 posted by Sinsemilla Jones on November 16, 2012 at 18:16:55 PT
Lawmakers say AL not ready for medical marijuana
Jeannie Arnold, of Muscle Shoals, urged lawmakers not to legalize marijuana. She told the committee about her 4-year-old granddaughter, who was killed in a south Georgia car wreck in 2010.The driver of the vehicle that caused the wreck had been smoking marijuana, she said.“(Marijuana) is the safe drug that doesn’t kill anybody?” Arnold said. “My family will tell you a different story.”Other opponents included the Alabama Medical Association and law enforcement representatives.,198762?content_source=&category_id=29&search_filter=&event_mode=&event_ts_from=&list_type=&order_by=&order_sort=&content_class=&sub_type=stories&town_id=
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on November 16, 2012 at 09:26:38 PT
Comment 10It's stunning to me how many Americans have been, and are, so willing to do this and want everyone else to be subjected to it, too... because they, themselves had to. It's against human dignity and mutual respect for that dignity.Obvious impairment is one thing... looking, searching, and seizing body fluids or hair for imagined impairment where there is none obvious... even inventing impairment, is entirely another.At some point, and a lot sooner than most people allow, I think, the law becomes criminal.Human dignity and respect is worth something.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on November 16, 2012 at 09:12:43 PT
Thanks Ekim and Hope
Drug testing is a serious issue. I have seen too many people who are afraid of failing a drug test start drinking more when they have to stop smoking marijuana. 
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Comment #17 posted by Hope on November 16, 2012 at 08:03:13 PT
Comment 13
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Comment #16 posted by ekim on November 15, 2012 at 19:55:32 PT
sorry to hear about your nephew and friend FoM
 maybe Dennis Kucinich might be able to help US.He is leaving congress and maybe receptive to working toward unifying the laws and States that are changingCannabis laws. has bio fuel stations maybe that could be the themefor this years Farm Aid with Hemp taking center stagefor the new crop of the future (PAST_) 
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Comment #15 posted by kaptinemo on November 15, 2012 at 16:45:50 PT:
The only things the prohibs are worried about
is loss of money and power. They're acting as if no one had ever driven stoned before the initiatives if they could freakin' tell the difference in the first place. They really have no idea just how many medicated motorists are driving in the lanes all around them on the freeway. It would take the grossest case of obvious erratic driving to provide a possible example...assuming, of course, the driver was stoned, and not on something else.So...all this sudden worry carries more than a faint whiff of intentional misdirection. In fact, it reeks of it."Marijuana is new..."Oh, my effin' Deity, did he really say that? Cannabis has been around on this planet for 12,000 years...and it's been subjected to intense scientific scrutiny by this government for well over half a century. Which leads me to the subject of drug testing... Firstly, given all the scandals that have plagued some States, with lab techs deliberately fudging results to meet work quotas, the system has proven itself to be just as flawed as those who opposed testing way back in the 1980's said it would. Secondly, at present, no actual means of determining impairment exists...which also reeks of misdirection.The prohibs have had all these decades and all those hundreds of billions of our taxpayer dollars to purchase the necessary resources the Federal government could have used to determine what constitutes a baseline for impairment...and they haven't. Doesn't seem to be much of a priority, huh? (Maybe because, like the with anti-cancer studies, perhaps the research was done...and like the anti-cancer studies, buried for political reasons.) In short, given all their myriad opportunities, this sudden, disingenuous 'concern' goes to show where the real priorities of the prohibs are. And it's not - and never was - 'public safety'. That's been used by tyrants through the ages to mask the actual rationale: power and control. The power the money they get from the public gives them...and the control they exercise over that public with that power. But...when the first State-sanctioned legal cannabis user that is cashiered from the job courtesy of the presence of metabolites (but no outward, obvious signs of impairment) sues his/her erstwhile employer, and said employer is unable to prove on-site impairment, that will signal the death knell of widespread use of drug testing as social control of employees by employers. The shoe will be on the other foot then, due to the potential to cause the business world to hemorrhage profits in a vain attempt to re-assert that control through sheer force of numbers of potential plaintiffs lining up against them. It's a fight they should not pick at all... 
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Comment #14 posted by schmeff on November 15, 2012 at 15:55:38 PT
Got the Munchies?
Good article (on MSN) from a Colorado writer discussing the health aspects of legal cannabis:
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on November 15, 2012 at 14:53:57 PT
The way I see it is much like you. Before drug testing people that had an accident and it was found out they were high on alcohol were punished accordingly. I guess we can't fail at anything. Nothing is an accident anymore. Drug testing has ruined my nephew's life. 20 years of reliable work down the tubes. Our one friend who has worked at the same job for almost 10 years drug testing will start in January. No one can ask for a raise or try to get a better job because drug testing keeps a person in fear. It must be stopped. 
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on November 15, 2012 at 14:41:39 PT
That sounds positive.
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Comment #11 posted by konagold on November 15, 2012 at 13:17:26 PT
OT : ATTN FOM Law Introduced to Uruguay Congress
By BY PABLO FERNANDEZ Associated Press
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay November 16, 2012 (AP)Uruguay is one step closer to turning the government into the country's leading pot dealer.The proposal formally introduced to Congress on Thursday would create a National Cannabis Institute with the power to license people and companies to produce marijuana for recreational, medical or industrial uses.
Uruguay Marijuana.JPEG
A marijuana grower shows plants he is growing... View Full CaptionIt also would allow anyone to grow as many as to six pot plants and produce up to 480 grams (17 ounces) of marijuana in their own homes.People could join clubs of up to 15 marijuana users who together could grow up to 90 plants and stockpile 7,200 grams of marijuana a year. The identity of buyers would remain protected by law.Ruling party Deputy Sebastian Sabini says the proposals now in committee are likely to pass Congress by year's end.
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Comment #10 posted by BGreen on November 15, 2012 at 12:46:11 PT
For God's Sakes, People!
Do we want to give every cop with a pissy attitude the RIGHT to haul us in and have someone stick a needle into our body and take our blood? Will they be punished for all of the negative readings and associated hell for the innocent? Of course not.I hate needles almost as much as I hate crooked cops. The more I keep both out of my life the better.Punish anybody who is too impaired to drive. It's obvious to see. People texting are far more dangerous than cannabis partakers so keep your nose out of my blood.Don't you realize they're going to demand the blood of anybody who has bloodshot eyes? Do you really want to give up our right of innocence until proven guilty for a guilty until our blood proves otherwise system?Please don't let them create even more of a police state.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #9 posted by id sense on November 15, 2012 at 12:31:29 PT:
Previous science
The cutoff for job tests used to be 50 ng/ml that's nano grams and you could fail that if you are a smoker and not impaired at the time you just usually drive slow.You can fail a week or two after smoking heavy. Video tape and common sense can help with scientific study, Any volunteers? I think the cutoff should be 40ng/ml. to give leeway for medical patients.
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Comment #8 posted by BGreen on November 15, 2012 at 11:23:17 PT
Impairment Is Impairment
Too many sober people go through life like Mr. Magoo, causing death and destruction with impunity while others are jailed for nothing more than an examination of their bodily fluids. There should be no excuses for bad behavior just because you haven't consumed something and there shouldn't be punishment for the possibility you might have done something bad just because somebody wants to pull that belief out of their butt.I used to listen to the scanner and I would often hear a cop call in a "possible 10/55," which is the code for drunk driver, only to hear them declare it was an elderly driver. I wondered what the hell the difference it made? They would have arrested somebody who was drinking but they just turned loose the obviously impaired elderly driver as if there really was a difference.The cops know the truth but choose to lie through their teeth in order to portray cannabis partakers as a threat worthy of prison.The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #7 posted by BGreen on November 15, 2012 at 10:16:52 PT
Who cares about 5 nanograms?
If you have to take my blood in order to determine if I'm impaired then I AM NOT IMPAIRED!The Reverend Bud Green
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Comment #6 posted by Relfving on November 15, 2012 at 09:55:28 PT:
From when I was smoking in the 1960s about three times a week, I was never impaired while driving. After 29 years I have now started smoking again as a California medical marijuana person. One time I felt that I was too stoned to drive. I waited about 40 minutes and then I felt OK. I was in San Francisco at the Vapor Room. I had a 20 mile drive to get home. 
I think the 5 nanogram level would be good. I wonder how stoned you are at that level. 
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Comment #5 posted by HempWorld on November 15, 2012 at 09:12:10 PT
We are back to this:
It's The Illegal Federal Prohibition, Stupid!Marijuana, Prohibition and the Tenth Amendment By Susan Shelley Sooner or later the question will have to be asked: Does the federal government have the power under the Constitution to stop cities and states from legalizing marijuana? The answer may be no. Federal law bans the possession of marijuana. But if a simple federal law can ban marijuana, why did Prohibition of alcohol require a constitutional amendment? A little history answers that question. The U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1789 to provide a framework for governing a nation composed of thirteen separate, sovereign states, each with its own state constitution and government. This was a new concept known as federalism. James Madison explained that the federal government would have only the powers delegated to it by the Constitution. Those powers would be "few and defined," he said, while the powers remaining in the state governments would be "numerous and indefinite." The states remained suspicious that the new federal government would encroach on their powers. They demanded and got ten amendments to the Constitution that specifically banned Congress from passing laws on matters that were understood to be within state control. The Tenth Amendment flatly declared, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." In 1919, the United States enacted a national ban on the manufacture, sale or transportation of intoxicating liquors. Because the Constitution did not give the federal government the power to regulate alcohol, Prohibition required a constitutional amendment, which was approved by two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, then ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states. In 1933, the nation reconsidered. A constitutional amendment repealing Prohibition was approved by two-thirds of the House and two-thirds of the Senate, then ratified by the legislatures of three-quarters of the states. Why did the country go to all that trouble if Congress could simply have declared alcohol a "controlled substance" and made it legal or illegal with a simple majority vote and a presidential signature? If marijuana is grown, distributed and consumed within state borders, and the state government decides that under some circumstances that is not a crime, by what authority does Congress override that judgment? Why is marijuana in 2003 different than alcohol in 1919? The Supreme Court ruled recently that the federal Controlled Substances Act does not contain an exception for medical necessity. Lawyers for the Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative argued that, exception or no exception, the Controlled Substances Act "exceeds Congress' Commerce Clause powers" and infringes the "fundamental liberties of the people under the Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments." The Supreme Court did not want to talk about it. "Because the Court of Appeals did not address these claims," Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, "we decline to do so in the first instance." The Court may not be able to duck the issue much longer. If the people of each state choose to decriminalize marijuana in some circumstances, the Constitution plainly reserves to them the power to do so. ---
Susan Shelley is the author of the novel The 37th Amendment, which includes an appendix on "How the First Amendment Came to Protect Topless Dancing." ---
Source notes: The Madison quotation is from Federalist No. 45, available online at; the Justice Thomas quotation is from U.S. v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative et al., 532 U.S. 483 (2001), available online at 
It's The Illegal Federal Prohibition, Stupid!
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Comment #4 posted by sinsibility on November 15, 2012 at 08:24:48 PT:
Prescribed meds?
I have long been concerned about, and actually observed drivers that have taken legally prescribed medicines and combinations of them too, that shouldn't be operating vehicles on the public roadway.We should avoid knee jerk preconceived DUI standards.
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Comment #3 posted by sinsibility on November 15, 2012 at 08:02:22 PT:
Cops need to test positive for chill pills
What is clear is that legislators want to try and keep the road safe for everyone, but cannot know a specific value without the scientific research.Now that these laws have finally made it legal to use, we can begin to find out what concentration of THC might be too much.Only a program that tests a widely diverse population and finds out scientifically how young, old, male, female, skinny, overweight,etc are affected could yield conclusions with the weight to be standards of impairment under law.If I have to design and get this program up and running myself, I also want to participate.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on November 15, 2012 at 08:01:38 PT
Don't worry.
Be happy!
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on November 15, 2012 at 05:11:32 PT
" it had 2,030 THC-positive samples"
This number is meaningless and does not prove a thing unless they list also any other substances in the blood. Pharmaceuticals, heroin, meth, booze, coke, antihistamines?They never list any companion substances when they are trying to make a point however disingenuous.
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