Marijuana and Cannabis News
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|Retired LAPD Deputy Chief Stephen Downing: "Enacting this legislation would not only be disastrous for our state's legal medical marijuana patients, but would impede public safety for all Californians by distracting police from catching actually dangerous drivers"|
Law Enforcers Say Bill Would Criminalize Legal Medical Marijuana Patients & Distract Police
Patients Would Face Mandatory 10-Year Prison Term With Third 'DUI' -- While Not Impaired
A group of former California police officers, prosecutors and judges on Tuesday issued a letter asking Assemblymember Norma Torres to withdraw a bill she introduced that would criminalize driving with any amount of cannabinoids in the body.
The criminal justice professionals, members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), say that the standards created by the bill have nothing to do with actual impairment behind the wheel and will criminalize the state's legal medical marijuana patients.
"Zero tolerance has a nice ring to it, but most all applications of this overused (and clichéd) concept result in harmful unintended consequences," the letter reads in part. "Zero tolerance relieves the decision-maker of the burden of making sound legal judgments and routinely produces more harm than good.
"It is absolutely conceivable that, if passed, this bill will become the foundation for DUI checkpoint abuses where the answer to the simple question, 'are you a legal medical cannabis patient?' will result in arrest and conviction under circumstances where impaired driving never occurred," the letter reads. "And if it happens to the same patient on three occasions, they will face a mandatory 10-year prison sentence, all while still being innocent."
"Keeping impaired drivers off the road is one of law enforcement's most important jobs, but this bill has no basis in science," said Stephen Downing, a retired deputy chief of police with the Los Angeles Police Department. "Enacting this legislation would not only be disastrous for our state's legal medical marijuana patients, but would impede public safety for all Californians by distracting police from catching actually dangerous drivers. Assemblymember Torres should withdraw this legislation immediately."
Assemblymember Torres's bill, AB 2552, was introduced on February 24 and has been referred to the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, which is chaired by medical marijuana supporter Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.
The full text of the bill can be read by clicking here.
The letter urging Assemblymember Torres to withdraw the bill, signed by 10 former law enforcement officials, is on LEAP's website, here [PDF].
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, prison wardens, federal agents and others who fought on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learned firsthand that punitive prohibitionist policies only serve to worsen addiction and violence.