Road Block – Several States Push For “Stoned Driving” Limits
Attempts to established “stoned driving” limits in California, Colorado, Washington and elsewhere threaten to target all marijuana users, even those wholly unimpaired.
With marijuana legalization initiatives on the ballot in several states this November, lawmakers across the country have begun pushing a new legislative strategy for targeting cannabis users, one with the potential to strip every one of them of their ability to legally operate a motor vehicle, even if it’s been weeks since the last time they smoked a joint.
While it’s already a crime everywhere in the country to drive a car while impaired by any substance, a new push in California, Colorado, Washington, and elsewhere to set specific limits for the amount of THC in the blood or urine of drivers has marijuana advocates concerned.
In Colorado and Washington, both of which could vote to legalize in 2012, debate continues regarding setting a limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. While in California, representative Norma Torres of Pomona has introduced AB 2552, a bill that would create a zero-tolerance policy for any driver found with any amount of cannabinoids in their body, making them effectively guilty of DUI.
“Since cannabinoids remain in the system for days or weeks after last use, the bill would effectively outlaw driving by every marijuana user in the state,” Dale Gieringer, head of California NORML, noted in a prepared statement.
“There is no scientific basis for zero-tolerance DUI standards. To begin with, there is no relationship between impairment and the presence of cannabinoids in urine. Secondly, there is no relationship between impairment and the presence of non-psychoactive cannabinoid metabolites in blood. Third, there is extensive evidence that safe driving is not incompatible with low levels of active THC in the blood.”