No one should drive when they have consumed too much marijuana. A responsible person knows if they are impaired from marijuana or not, and whether they are too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. With that being said, marijuana stays in your system for weeks after consumption, and current approaches to detecting if someone is a stoned driver can’t differentiate whether a person has consumed marijuana prior to getting behind the wheel, or weeks prior.
And even if there was a way to differentiate, such as determining how much active THC is in a person’s blood, there isn’t a per se limit in Oregon like there is with alcohol. If you have a blood alcohol level of .08 in Oregon as an adult and you are caught driving, you are passed the threshold of what Oregon law recognizes as being too intoxicated. Oregon’s Implied Consent law doesn’t list a limit like that for marijuana. These are factors that Oregon’s Legislature is trying to tackle right now, and it appears that politicians are using this as an opportunity to overhaul Oregon’s DUII laws.
Right now in Oregon, drawing blood for DUII purposes requires a warrant, unless you were involved in a serious accident and the hospital gives law enforcement a sample of your blood while you are there. Imagine if that changed, and law enforcement no longer needed a warrant. That’s what would happen with Oregon House Bill 3170. The bill adds blood to the Implied Consent law, meaning that if you are on a public road, your consent to a blood draw is already implied. If you refuse the blood draw, whether you have marijuana in your system or not, you automatically lose your license for a year. That’s the type of stuff that gives me nightmares. The bill is so poorly written that it doesn’t even state what the failing limit would be for marijuana, or any substance, just that they can draw your blood and test it and use it as evidence at court if you try to fight it. Or again, if you refuse, you automatically lose your license for a year.
If that bill wasn’t bad enough, there’s also Oregon House Bill 2371. The summary on the bill is as follows:
Provides that evidence of test administered, or observation made, by police officer as part of drug recognition evaluation is admissible in judicial or administrative proceeding if certain conditions are met.
That doesn’t sound too scary, if the rules around testing and observations are fair. But who gets to make the rules you ask? Again referring to the bill:
The Department of State Police by rule shall establish the tests and observations required for drug recognition evaluations that are used for the purpose of determining whether a person is under the influence of intoxicants.
So let’s say both of these bills pass and are implemented. The cops can ask you to get out of a car, give you whatever test the Oregon State Police determine is a good way to accuse you of being under the influence of marijuana, can then draw your blood without a warrant, and use it against you in court. And if you object and refuse to any of that, you automatically lose your license.
Add to this situation Oregon Senate Bill 13. DUII checkpoints have been illegal in Oregon since the 1980’s. But if Senate Bill 13 is approved, DUII checkpoints would be legal again. Senate Bill 13 would require a change to Oregon’s Constitution, so it would first have to be referred to voters, but just the thought that I would have to go through one of those ever in my life, completely sober, but I have THC in my blood stream…That would be about the time that I give up driving and start walking everywhere. That is a horrible scenario.
If you live in Oregon, contact your Senator and Representative and let them know that this is unacceptable. This affects even people that don’t consume marijuana. People that have done nothing wrong shouldn’t be subjected to blood draws because an officer has an unproven hunch that they may have marijuana in their system at a DUII checkpoint. There are a lot of lobbyists working on marijuana policy this session at the Oregon Capital (17 I heard last). I hear about a lot of them working on the business side of marijuana policy, but I haven’t heard too many people talking about these pieces of legislation. We need all hands on deck friends. Contact your legislators, and tell everyone else you know to do the same.