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Debunking ‘No on I-502’ Video

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No on I-502, the only organized opposition to marijuana legalization run by a medical marijuana profiteer, has released a propaganda video to scare pot smokers into voting against ending their own criminality. I take the time to debunk it.

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About Author

Executive Director: Russ Belville has been active in Oregon marijuana reform since 2005, when he was elected second-in-command of the state affiliate, Oregon NORML. After four years with Oregon NORML, Russ was hired by National NORML in 2009, working as Outreach Coordinator and hosting the NORML Daily Audio Stash podcast until 2012. Since then, Russ launched the 420RADIO marijuana legalization network and is the host of The Russ Belville Show, a live daily marijuana news talk radio program. Russ is also a prolific writer, with over 300 articles posted online and in print in HIGH TIMES, Huffington Post, Alternet, The Weed Blog, Marijuana Politics, and more.

161 Comments

  1. You might have missed this post previously in this thread: The drug czar does not support 5 ng ctive THC limits. That would require him to accept that ANY use of marijuana is permitted and tolerated.

    Zero tolerance per se including metabolites is what the ONDCP is advancing–not a 5 ng limit for only active THC. Your suggestion that a 5 ng limit will be supported or the I-502 is supported by the drug czar–former or past–is pure misleading fiction.

    What they are really advocating is this: since they feel that driving and marijuana use is extremely dangerous, and since their goal is a drug free America, and since they dismiss the measurement of active THC as a measure of impairment while insisting the stoned driving is an epidemic, here’s what they want:
    People who are arrested for possession (not just driving) will be offered treatment with urine testing for metabolites instead of jail. If a test is failed or one does not follow through with treatment, the person is incarcerated and then given another chance to live a marijuana free life. Compliance eventually leads to the conviction being removed from ones record. This is the new compassionate, public health approach to marijuana use. Even Governor Christie supports it.

    Actually you are the one supporting the exact same position as the drug czar, which is to vote against repealing prohibition in Washington state.

  2. Wow, you just ignored a direct quote.

    “…the Strategy calls for:

    Encouraging states to adopt Per Se drug impairment laws;”

    Is your position that, since he doesn’t mention “5ng/ml” that you are somehow justified in your wildly misleading statement?

  3. Your statement: “Per-se limits establish specific levels that amount to a VIOLATION, not guilt. You still have to be found guilty by the court.”

    But by definition:
    “A per se drugged driving law is one in which a specified level of a drug in the body of a driver IS DEFINED AS AN OFFENSE.” (I.e., you only have to be proven guilty of the blood level, not the impairment.)

    “In concept it is not necessary to prove driver impairment to convict an offender under a per se law.”

    Your statement is nonsense: “…it amounts to a violation…” yah, one that you are GUILTY of if the BLOOD LEVELS were accurate… says nothing about whether those levels actually constitute IMPAIRMENT. Argue further on this point, you’re just being willfully dumb.

  4. You’re arguing like an idiot.

    The “per se” means, whether or not this limit impairs you (as in, three days after you smoke a joint – or even a single day, for that matter – you exhibit this level), you will be legally treated as though you were impaired as much as someone who is trailing clouds of pot smoke down the highway.

    People are not opposed to the DUI aspect: they’re opposed to being treated like they just chugged six martinis ten seconds ago when they actually only had a Zima two days ago.

  5. Evidence of impairment is not required: that is what a “per se” limit is all about. And you can bet cops that don’t like the law are going to take every possible opportunity and slimmest excuse to test. You talk as though you are unaware of the way NYC officers have managed to arrest thousands by manipulating the “public display” statute, etc. Even “you weaved over that line” when you DIDN’T is an easy route to a free test. Or, as I’ve mentioned above, be involved in an accident (after which they will certainly test) where you were not the cause: a false presumptive limit (a limit not linked to actual impairment) will greatly increase the likelihood you will be on the hook as the presumptive cause of the accident.

    Further, you can’t act as though once this gets onto cops’ radar it won’t be a HELL of a lot more testing than there has been to this point. This will be a case of “give a man a hammer, and suddenly everything looks like a nail.”

  6. I’ve really been enjoying your comments, Jillian, and respect your thought process, but I think you may have overlooked something on the cost issue.

    First, let me say I agree with most of what you say: especially the DUID has the potential to become a creeping HORROR. The PRESUMPTIVE limit means you’re considered guilty based strictly on the limit and not impairment, thus *responsible as though you were impaired*, irrespective of any actual level of impairment, and can be tested for this at basically the absolute discretion of any cop. How about this scenario: you’re peripherally involved in a vehicular accident where someone loses their life, three days after smoking a joint at home, but the person that actually *caused* the accident points to the DUID results from the post-accident testing and suddenly YOU’RE the *presumptive cause* of the whole thing. Congratulations, you’re the top target in a vehicular homicide witch hunt by prosecutors hungry for public examples to beat low-information voters over the head with to drive legalization back to the Stone Age (no pun intended). We *badly* need some objective scientific test for IMPAIRMENT… accepting the 5ng/ml limit — particularly since you personally have absolutely no way to test yourself, so you *can’t even know when you’re violating it* — is a HORRIBLE bargain with an unknown devil. We need to address that first thing.

    But as to the economics: I think you’re shortcutting past something. You’re assuming an initial state where the market has already set the price free of other forces: but actually, the two big reasons people spend hundreds of dollars per ounce rather than smoke free by growing it are: a) expertise and b) criminal risk.

    You can get the expertise, but only by assuming the criminal risk. Virtually every cent you pay a dealer is, in effect, payment to keep the most serious criminal risks off your own premises, totally unrelated to the actual costs necessary to produce, process & distribute what is after all a hardy plant, not a scarce resource. Right now the price reflects “What do you have to pay everyone in the chain to risk jail to get this to you,” not its real cost. Now, it will probably be iffy for the first few legal providers, but once agribusiness gets into it, with all the political behind the scenes winks and handshakes, there will be huge scale production WITHOUT the criminal risk, which by some estimates is 99% of the price (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/legalizing-marijuana-washington-colorado_n_2088375.html) NORML (quoted at HuffPost) projects it to actually cost more like $3/oz to produce, in the absence of criminal risk!! Figuring at a simplistic level, tax that at 25% three different times and it’s still under seven bucks an ounce. (At one point even says, “Marijuana could cost as little as 20 cents per pound to produce, according to Slate.”) (But I have the feeling “dollars per ounce” is rapidly going to become an anachronistic, or at least deprecated, measure of value. Quick, without looking, How many ounces in the pack of cigarettes you just bought, and what was the per-ounce price? Ok, now how about in that six-pack?)

    This would follow the model of alcohol, which was so much more expensive under prohibition than before or after. (Although quality moonshine still draws a premium price, as a hard-to-find rarity. Boutique outlaw trade will not go away, but bulk supply will no longer be in the outlaw wheelhouse. The big scandal is going to be the first time a huge legally-grown Washington shipment ends up in Oregon or elsewhere. Easier to smuggle into Oregon from Washington or from Mexico, hm?)

    So, I just think we don’t *know* on price yet, and it will be a multi-stage “settling” process where once again the pioneers will get the arrows and the settlers will get the land.

    But keep up the reasoned comments in the face of knee-jerk glee. And try not to call the monkeys names, it only obscures the reason of your points and makes them hoot louder. ;)

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