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The Stranger’s Dominic Holden Delivers A Passionate Defense Of I-502 At NORMLCON 2012

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normlcon 2012 dominic holdenFormer NORML Board Member Dominic Holden Gives A Stellar Speech At NORMLCON 2012

By Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Coordinator

At this year’s NORML Conference, which was held the first week of October, much emphasis was placed on the upcoming legalization initiatives in Washington, Colorado, and Oregon. One of the featured speakers was former NORML Board Member and writer for The Stranger in Washington, Dominic Holden. Dominic delivered an impassioned speech defending Washington’s marijuana legalization initiative, I-502, and spoke at length at the importance of winning initiatives and how we can progress towards full legalization in America.

You can watch the video below:

“The first [complaint of the opposition]is they don’t like a provision…that says if you have 5ng active THC in your blood for every mL of whole blood then you are guilty of DUI.

What the opponents have been saying, is that someone who has used marijuana, a regular marijuana user…a medical marijuana user, will test positive for exceeding that level a day later, two days later, a week later. Well guess what? They don’t have a single f***ing scientific study to back them up. In fact, the science proves them wrong. What science shows is the vast majority of marijuana users drop below that 5ng level within a few hours and none within 12-24 hours and certainly not a day later, two days later, a week later. Their argument is fundamentally flawed, because it’s a lie.

They are also concerned about a federal challenge, they say, “If we pass I-502 the federal government is going to challenge us on legalizing pot.”

News Flash: That’s the damn point.”

Source: NORML

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14 Comments

  1. The Get-Sarich Conspiracy on

    …Except that unless your driving a car, no one cares how much THC you have in your system.

    The idea that 502 is aimed at “arresting people who use cannabis by
    finding it in their blood” is beyond absurd. (“paranoid” is probably a
    better word)

    As far as DUID goes:

    Of course there’s variance from the per-se standard of impairment. Not every person who consumes alcohol is impaired at .08 – but the vast majority are, so .08 is used as a standard for what impairs a NORMAL PERSON.

    Med patients who smoke hash-oil all day long are what’s known as “statistical-outliers” – in other words, people whose blood-THC levels would indicate extreme impairment in normal users. Hardly an appropriate baseline of intoxication to apply to everyone.

    As Holcomb has tried to slowly explain to you many times – 502 doesn’t result in automatic DUI arrests or convictions – that’s just not what per se standards do under current law. All the defenses you have to blowing a .09 BAC remain for people who test above 5ng. It’s an improvement in every way. You fears simply don’t have a basis in reality.

    See Russ’ post for all the other reasons why your an asshole.

  2. Sorry….that TOTALLY debunks the NAW propaganda. But you idiots are missing the point. There IS no magic number for “impairment”….and can’t be. Arguing what the correct number is, is nothing more than a distraction (something you guys love).

    It’s impossible to determine impairment by measuring THC levels in blood. This whole per se thing is not about “impairment”, it’s about arresting people who use cannabis by finding it in their blood.

    It’s the new strategy for prohibition….you can “own marijuana”….you just can’t have it in your blood stream. Cute trick…the jokes on everyone who votes for this BS law.

  3. The Get-Sarich Conspiracy on

    Barring variables?

    So basically the coefficient of 45-60% you just provided is meaningless.

    And for the record, the study you quote:

    “THC and THCCOOH can be detected in plasma for up to 30 days of monitored abstinence in chronic daily cannabis smokers….”

    …doesn’t debunk any claim made by NAW or their supporters.

    All it says is that people who smoke huge quantities of pot will have so much THC in their system that it will take a long time for it TO COMPLETELY DISAPPEAR. That is, no detectable THC of any kind. Given this standard, a concentration of 5ng Active-THC in whole-blood is very substantial – and miles from the cut-off the study is referring to.

    Glad we got that straight.

  4. THC in plasma directly correlates with THC in whole blood. Barring variables, like the hydration level of the patient, you simple divide the ng/ml in plasma by 45%-60% to get the ng/ml in whole blood.

    Keep making an ass of yourself, but that’s my last biology lesson for the short bus crowd for today.

  5. The Get-Sarich Conspiracy on

    Those damn facts always get in the way, don’t they Steve?

    You and Hiatt are growing more pathetic by the day.

    You sound like a perma-fried grower who can’t keep his lie straight.

    Hiatt sounds like he cheated his way through law school. Did you hear him on NPR? What a moron.

    Go away.

  6. Just one, Steve. Find us one person in all Washington history who:

    -smokes pot all the time
    -drives a car
    -got pulled over
    -cop suspected impairment
    -failed impairment test
    -got arrested
    -passed breathalyzer
    -had blood drawn
    -came up >5ng/ml
    -had that admitted into evidence at DUID trial
    -got an acquittal.

    But please, continue to loudly proclaim that people who smoke pot all the time and have 5ng of active THC in their blood at all times drive just fine, aren’t impaired at all, but somehow cops will pull them over for their unimpaired driving, suspect them of impairment, and rush them in for a blood draw. Because to the mainstream, when they see the pot people complaining they won’t be able to drive high, it wins I-502 more votes.

    ANYBODY WHO FEARS A >5ng DUID AFTER I-502 PASSES SHOULD BE TERRIFIED NOW EVERY TIME THEY DRIVE. If you end up in court with an officer saying you were impaired and a blood test showing >5ng, you’re not getting out of that NOW. And for these shameless pot lawyers saying they’ll have absolutely no way to defend you in court… please explain why we have multiple listings for alcohol DUI lawyers when there is a .08 BAC per se law (.02 for under 21)? There are lots of defenses in court – did the cop have probable cause, did the sobriety test indicate no impairment, was the testee impaired by physical issues, did the testing lab follow proper procedure, and so on.

    You can argue that THC measurement doesn’t indicate impairment until you’re blue in the face and I won’t disagree with you one bit. Judging impairment by body chemistry is like judging intelligence by hat size. Even in the case of alcohol, which is very dose-dependent and so far the most reliable chemistry=impairment measure we have, it is not foolproof. My father was an alcoholic. I know there was rarely a time he was driving below .08 (this was the 1970s, after all) but he drove wonderfully. In fact, he was a worse driver sober, because he’d get the shakes.

    But impairment isn’t the issue. Did you ever notice that DUID doesn’t stand for Driving Under the Impairment of Drugs? It’s “Influence” of Drugs.

    This is important. It is the irresponsibility of taking a drug then driving that people don’t like. It is not necessarily that you are too impaired to drive. In my father’s example above, he could be driving fine, but that .08 BAC shows he recently drank and shouldn’t have been irresponsible by driving.

    In our society, we want people to drive the best they can, not necessarily be the best driver. For example, suppose if you gave me a letter grade for my driving, I get an A. Suppose also that there’s an 84-year-old granny with coke-bottle glasses still driving and she gets a C. We’re both “passable” drivers, but granny’s that too slow, can’t merge, doesn’t signal, can’t parallel park driver, and I’m a guy who’s driven from Seattle to San Bernardino to Denver and all points in between and hasn’t had a ticket in this century.

    But if I go to the bar and have a few shots and get back in my car with a .09 BAC, maybe my driving skill falls to a B-. And when a cop pulls over me and granny, she’s going to get a warning and I’m going to get a DUI. Not because I’m a worse driver than granny, but because I wasn’t the best driver I can be.

    That’s how the mainstream sees DUID. You did something irresponsible by taking drugs and driving. It doesn’t matter if you drive great or not.

    Now, with I-502 we’re going to have a bunch of people who aren’t the most experienced potheads in the world getting their first joints. Some of the occasional tokers are going to toke more often. Some will be experiencing their first concentrates. And all the Karchners and Huestises and Grotenhermans you keep dredging up all show that these infrequent tokers spike in ng shortly after inhale and are below 5ng within 1-4 hours. And that’s with shwaggy US Pot Farm weed.

    These are the people for whom a 5ng per se is going to be a fairly decent indicator that they have irresponsibly impaired themselves, just as the .08 BAC shows most drinkers are too drunk to drive. Now we both know that even the stoniest driver is safer than the best drunk, but there is no denying the stony driver isn’t as good as he is sober. Maybe it’s only an A to an A-, but it is a reduction in ability.

    Now for the professional tokers, the ones who claim to be >5ng all the time, what’s going to happen? They’re going to get away with it, because they are NOW. I’m one of them. And I’ve even driven in Texas and Georgia (zero tolerance for metabolites in pee with a 24hr jail mandatory minimum) and Florida this year! And I doubt I’m ever below 5ng, ever.

    And it’s not like I couldn’t be profiled. I do have a fairly big Google footprint. I drive a beat up Jeep with RAD RUS license plates and VOTE YES ON MEASURE 80 writ large on my back window, alongside the NORML and other pot-related stickers. Yet somehow, I drive well enough that no cops ever pull me over – well, once, I did get pulled over for a burnt headlight, while wearing my pot cap, having come from trimming fresh bud, and I got a warning – in twenty-two years of heavy pot smoking.

    Now, after I-502 passes, will an unimpaired pot smoker, perhaps a patient, get a DUID they don’t deserve? Yup, no doubt about it, because that person would get a DUID they don’t deserve NOW. Anthony Martinelli called into my show yesterday and claimed that prosecutors get 90% conviction rate on DUIDs now, and I’m betting that 10% who get out of it aren’t the >5ng blood draw cohort. Meanwhile, I bet that 10% number grows a bit when defense attorneys can argue, “Your Honor, my client’s blood was below the legal limit for THC!” for their <5ng clients and it grows a bit more when inactive metabolites in pee are no longer evidence of impairment.

    This isn't I-502 vs. your wet dream "true legalization". This is I-502 vs. Prohibition. This is every national drug reform organization vs. the drug czar and the cops. This is "becoming the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize possession of one ounce and state-licensed marijuana markets" vs. "becoming the latest state to reject legalization". And that you could sit on the same side with the drug cops that want to punish us all for mere possession shows how devoted you are to maintaining your prohibition profiteering. I've got no sinister motivations; I'm my own boss and I'm as at more risk of a 5ng DUID than most. But when 502 passes, I'll be moving to Vancouver so I can live in the most free marijuana jurisdiction on earth (and save money on rent compared to Portland).

  7. No. Can’t you read? Do I really have to spell it out for you? You quoted a study that looked at THC plasma concentrations to prove Holden a liar. Holden wasn’t talking about plasma concentrations. He was talking about whole blood concentrations, which is what is called for in I-502. Blood plasma is a far more sensitive unit of measurement and would indeed be a bad way to measure recent cannabis exposure as the article you quoted from said. The same can not be said of whole blood. You were hoping that people wouldn’t know the difference, but I do, and now the readers of this blog do, and they can see for themselves that you are trying to mislead them. Please keep it up because it’s good entertainment and it makes you look stupid.

  8. So…are you contending that it can be present in blood plasma, but not in whole blood, for 30 days? I just want you to be clear about this before you embarass yourself further.

  9. Bwahaha! Awww… you’re embarassed! It’s understandable. You do look really silly. It’s too bad you can’t go back and delete your previous comment isn’t it? Your attempt to “cloud the issue” is there for everyone to see.

  10. Nice attempt at clouding the issue…but no cigar. If it’s in the blood plasma for 30 days, it’s in your blood it’s in your blood for 30 days. Nice try moron.

  11. I hope the people reading will note that Holden mentioned “whole blood” while Sarich quotes a study talking about “plasma”. Plasma is a far more sensitive unit of measurement than whole blood, and the 5ng limit in I-502 applies only to whole blood concentrations. Wrong again Steve! But I know you’ll keep cynically repeating this misinformation anyway because you don’t care how low you have to stoop to scare and confuse people.

  12. As Usual…..Holden is lying. Why would that surprise anyone? NORML knows he’s lying….and gave him an award for it. These people are shameless.

    “THC Concentrations in Chronic Cannabis Smokers”

    “THC and THCCOOH can be detected in plasma for up to 30 days of monitored abstinence in chronic daily cannabis smokers. Thus, cannabinoid plasma concentrations may not indicate recent cannabis exposure, nor intoxication or impairment, depending upon past smoking history.”

    -Karschner – Journal of Analytical Toxicology

    2012 – National Institutes of Health, NIDA