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Warning, here comes another boring post about drugs but at least there's real life implications for us all here.

Last week I saw this post about legalizing marijuana and then finding what the appropriate levels of the drug in your system that still let you operate heavy machinery and motor vehicles. Left me a bit confused and concerned for society in general. Allow me to digress a bit here. Also, apologies for my grammar but I've imbibed a bit as I wrote this over the weekend.

This stuff has been proposed in Congress before, but here's a few of the many reasons this is difficult...

"But Rep. Waller says that this bill is different than the previous bills because it allows for a person who has been charged with having 5 nanograms of THC in their blood torebut the charge that they are too impaired to drive, according to 7News."

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

"For example, if you did not exhibit poor driving, you can put that on as evidence to say, 'Look my driving was not poor, I'm not unsafe to operate a motor vehicle,'"Waller said during the hearing."

Cops cannot pull you over for being a "bad driver" unless you're driving is "unsafe". These seem like arbitrary opinions about something as opposed to factual evidence.

"Are drivers measurably impaired while under the influence of marijuana like they clearly are when under the influence of alcohol?" That has been one of the core questions opponents of the bill have been asking about bills like these each year they are introduced.

Westword spoke to Attorney Leonard Frieling in 2012 over last year's marijuana DUI bill who described the clear correlation between blood alcohol level and driving impairment -- the higher the blood alcohol level, the more impaired drivers are. But he questions the correlation between marijuana blood levels and driving impairment saying to Westword, "that appears not to hold true as cleanly with cannabis. So talking about impaired driving is one thing, but trying to give a number a meaning it doesn't have is something else entirely.""

This might be a crux of the argument against, as there's no definitive line that's a fit for everyone. Sure huge fat guys can drink more beer and be less drunk because they have more blood in their system, but for THC it's a different story altogether. Exhibit A - "This fact of THC's different effect on the body than alcohol's was stunningly shown in 2011 by Westword pot reporter William Breathes. After a night of sleep and not smoking pot for 15 hours, a sober Breathes still tested nearly three times higher than the proposed legal limit."

With bills like this proposed, why even bother with legalizing it in the first place? I guess the government has to make money off this somehow, but I wholeheartedly disagree that this is that solution.
*Just a note that Washington state already has this bill in place with the legal limit set at 5 nanograms.

So where do we go from here? Is there an effective way to legalize and tax efficiently for all involved and not add to the absolutely ridiculously high imprisonment rate for non-violent crimes in the process by arbitrarily choosing an appropriate level of weed in your system as judged by the state?

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Comments (15)

  • Commonsense's picture

    I never drive while high. I get way too paranoid after seeing so many friends lives fucked up by marijuana arrests.
    Why the hell has it not been legalized

  • TDSWIM's picture

    If they test for THC, then couldn't you get arrested for a DUI/DWI a day or two after ingesting said substance? Last I checked it was illegal to possess it, not to use it. Finding out what you did yesterday or the day before is an invasion of privacy in my mind unless a test is ordered by a court after, for example, an accident where someone is left maimed for life.

    Imagine a bleary eyed student studying for exams had ingested THC a couple days prior, and gets pulled over for a brake light that's out. The officer suspects the student is "under the influence of marijuana" because of red and strained eyes from studying and decides to test the student for THC, and they fail. Is this justifiable? Could it happen?

    As far as driving while high, I think some people probably drive more carefully, some it doesn't affect much at all, and many others can't pay attention to the road and probably shouldn't be driving. It's not like alcohol where it's been proven that it impairs motor coordination and reflexes. It's highly dependent on the person, and since it doesn't have the same effects on everyone, it shouldn't be treated like alcohol.

    Someone who had just smoked a cigarette for the first time might be a little discombobulated, does this mean there should be a nicotine test to make sure you haven't had too much nicotine to drive? It's obvious that someone who just tried THC for the first time shouldn't be out on the road. Someone who has been using THC for decades on the other hand though, should they be held to the same test standards as that person who just ingested the substance and might not even have it in their bloodstream yet?

    I don't think the nanny state needs to be getting involved in this. It just seems like a way to fleece more money from the people in the name of safety, and make it seem like the government is doing something about keeping us safe so the concerned soccer moms don't get all up in arms. We're not necessarily going to be better off or safer because of this approach.

  • Leveraged Bailout's picture

    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    It has been dead since the war on drugs began in 1971.

  • SamuelClemens's picture

    Yeah I don't think that there will be any roadside tests for THC, at least not any time soon. People (like me) have been driving high for years. Weed has been quasi-legal in California for quite some time now (those medical cards are super easy to get) and they haven't needed to create a roadside THC test.

  • Edmundo Braverman's picture

    While I can't speak to driving high, I've long believed that we should be allowed to show up to the DMV hammered and take our driving test. Get breathalyzed, pass the test, and then they stamp your license "good up to .18" or whatever. Saves hassles at DUI checkpoints.

  • In reply to Leveraged Bailout
    skylinegtr94's picture

    Leveraged Bailout:
    What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

    It has been dead since the war on drugs began in 1971.

    Good point... Goes back to EB's post a few weeks back. Just a monumental waste of money with nothing to show for it as far as I can tell. A PR move at best since I doubt any President/congressman wants to be the person to outright declare it's ineptitude.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    skylinegtr94's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    While I can't speak to driving high, I've long believed that we should be allowed to show up to the DMV hammered and take our driving test. Get breathalyzed, pass the test, and then they stamp your license "good up to .18" or whatever. Saves hassles at DUI checkpoints.

    This would be one of the funniest things to witness at a DMV. I could see people lining up around the block to watch the weekly driving tests, not unlike any NASCAR event where everyone is secretly praying for some carnage. How much would you have to pay an instructor to get in the car?

  • overpaid_overworked's picture

    Buddy of mine, that is clever but often makes poor life decisions, and I are heading down the street. He sees a checkstop on the side of the road near a bar we like. He makes the decision to scrap our earlier plans and go to that bar. After x number beers, we wander out, and he walks straight to the checkstop, asks the cop if he can blow before he gets in his car. Cop says, 'sure enough' and buddy blows 0.07 or somthing close to the line. I'm thinking, that was clever, we were going to go through the check stop when we left, so may as well be safe. Then he tells me that he really didn't know what 0.08 (legal limit) felt like, wanted to see if he could have three beers and a plate of chicken wings and still be good to drive. Clever girl.

    My biggest complaint about any arbitrary limit is that I just don't know what that limit feels like, I really need to find a convenient checkstop near a bar I like.

  • In reply to overpaid_overworked
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    overpaid_overworked:
    Buddy of mine, that is clever but often makes poor life decisions, and I are heading down the street. He sees a checkstop on the side of the road near a bar we like. He makes the decision to scrap our earlier plans and go to that bar. After x number beers, we wander out, and he walks straight to the checkstop, asks the cop if he can blow before he gets in his car. Cop says, 'sure enough' and buddy blows 0.07 or somthing close to the line. I'm thinking, that was clever, we were going to go through the check stop when we left, so may as well be safe. Then he tells me that he really didn't know what 0.08 (legal limit) felt like, wanted to see if he could have three beers and a plate of chicken wings and still be good to drive. Clever girl.

    My biggest complaint about any arbitrary limit is that I just don't know what that limit feels like, I really need to find a convenient checkstop near a bar I like.

    He's damn lucky the cop wasn't an asshole. While .08 is the legal limit, a cop can arrest you for having any trace of alcohol in your system if he feels like you're impaired. In other words, it's illegal to drive after drinking, period. Once your BAC hits .08, however, you're guaranteed a conviction of some sort. I know this because it unfortunately happened to a friend of mine who was under .08 when he made an illegal U-turn and got pulled over by a cop who was only two DUIs away from receiving an award (true story). My buddy was so fine, in fact, that the cop explained the entire process to him while he sat in the back of the cop's car watching his Mercedes get impounded. Absolute shit luck.

  • In reply to Edmundo Braverman
    TDSWIM's picture

    Edmundo Braverman:
    While I can't speak to driving high, I've long believed that we should be allowed to show up to the DMV hammered and take our driving test. Get breathalyzed, pass the test, and then they stamp your license "good up to .18" or whatever. Saves hassles at DUI checkpoints.

    That's a fantastic idea!

    I hope your friend that got the DUI from the overzealous cop fought that one hard. Did they end up getting a DUI after all was said and done?

  • In reply to TDSWIM
    Edmundo Braverman's picture

    TDSWIM:
    Edmundo Braverman:
    While I can't speak to driving high, I've long believed that we should be allowed to show up to the DMV hammered and take our driving test. Get breathalyzed, pass the test, and then they stamp your license "good up to .18" or whatever. Saves hassles at DUI checkpoints.

    That's a fantastic idea!

    I hope your friend that got the DUI from the overzealous cop fought that one hard. Did they end up getting a DUI after all was said and done?

    Plead down to wet reckless, which is essentially the same thing in California. Still fucked up his insurance, he had to go to a bunch of D.A.M.M. classes, a bunch of other shit that makes life unlivable for a few years.

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