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California Lawmaker Ends Effort To Impose Unscientific Drugged Driving Law

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California Marijuana LeafAssemblywoman Norma Torres has amended her proposal, AB 2552, to remove language that initially sought to expose marijuana consumers to enhanced DUI penalties based solely upon the presence of THC in their blood. Assemblywoman Torres took this action after representatives from the marijuana law reform community and the public roundly criticized the legislation as being discriminatory toward cannabis consumers, including those who use the substance therapeutically in compliance with state law.

As initially introduced, AB 2552 was unnecessary because California law enforcement already possesses the legal authority to authorize the collection of blood specimens from suspected DUI marijuana drivers. Prosecutors routinely use these results as evidence in DUI prosecutions. In fact, state prosecutors presently enjoy a nearly 80 percent conviction rate in criminal cases where suspects are charged with DUI. There was no justifiable need to lower the state’s burden of proof in these cases by establishing a new standard that fails to require definitive proof of actual driver impairment.

AB 2552 was also unscientific and could have led to the wrongful conviction of non-impaired drivers. While most traffic safety experts acknowledge that acute marijuana intoxication may impair psychomotor performance, they also agree that marijuana-induced impairment is seldom severe – particular when compared to the psychomotor impairing effects of alcohol – or long lasting. Yet the presence of THC, marijuana’s primary active compound, may be detectable in the blood of human subjects who have inhaled a single, low potency cigarette for as many as 12 hours, a length of time that is well beyond any actual period of impairment. In more frequent consumers, such as those among California’s medical cannabis patient community, residual levels of THC may be present in the blood for much longer periods of time, making them susceptible to wrongful convictions.

As amended, AB 2552 no longer includes new, discriminatory DUI penalties. NORML wishes to thank those of you who took the time to contact your member of the Assembly to help us successfully derail AB 2552.

Article from NORML and republished with permission.

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3 Comments

  1. Jay,

    The new law 2552 being placed into effect on January 1, 2014 will still be imposing an unscientific drug law that divorces impairment from arrest/any crime being committed. The new law is a zero tolerance law, where if you have any marijuana found in your system, (from the night or week before perhaps), you will be convicted (at least most likely) of a DUID. How is this still not something that bothers you? Where is the fight to stop this?

  2. If it’s so hard to tell if a driver’s consumed cannabis then what’s the problem? Obviously it doesn’t cause enough of an impairment for us to worry about otherwise it’d be pretty obvious who’s taken it and who hasn’t (just like alcohol).

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