It's a challenging thing to oppose Initiative 502 -- a measure many have been duped into thinking is "marijuana legalization" -- and it's going to be a challenge for many cannabis law reform advocates to check "No" on their ballot. The proponents of this initiative have wrongfully pegged it as a potential blow to our failed War On Drugs, and have justified the dangerous provisions as "necessary."
Supporters of Initiative 502 often claim that it doesn't affect medical cannabis patients. This is, of course, a deceitful statement, and one that screams of inaccuracy. It also screams of desperation, as the proponents of this initiative know that otherwise, medical marijuana patients won't go for it.
Despite their claims of changing nothing for patients, many have been interested, frustrated, and angered to learn of their inclusion of a new per se DUID limit for THC, which applies to every patient in the state. This new mandate, to put it frankly, is preposterous, not to mention unethical and scientifically unsound.
|Anthony Martinelli of marijuana legalization group Sensible Washington wrote this piece for Toke of the Town|
What this new limit dictates, is that if you're above 5 ng/ml of THC (0 ng/ml if you're under 21) -- a limit patients and casual consumers will fail even when their last consumption was days ago -- you're instantly guilty of Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. Instantly.
Initiative 502 removes the protection in our current law which requires an officer to prove in court that you were impaired in order to prosecute you for a DUID. With this new limit, as it's per se, you can no longer defend yourself in court against allegations of impairment, regardless of who your attorney is or how long it's been since your last consumption of cannabis.
This 5 ng/ml limit (and the more ridiculous zero tolerance policy for those under 21) is absolutely not based in science, and is a limit set by politicians and lawyers, rather than doctors and scientists.
People should not underestimate the devastating effect this change will have on our community.
Arizona, Rhode Island and Montana, which have similar per se policies for cannabis, all have legal exclusions to this policy for medical cannabis patients. The fact that a state like Arizona would include this exclusion, yet a "legalization" initiative in Washington wouldn't, is nothing less than absurd.
And we have data to back up the impact of this type of per se law. Nevada, which is one of the only states in the country that has a per se DUID limit for THC, without an exclusion for patients, had an increase of roughly 4,000 new DUIDs, the next year after passing this new policy.
Imagine what that number would be in a state like Washington with people thinking cannabis is "legal," and with such a strong medical cannabis community.
State Rep. Roger Goodman introduced an even higher 8 ng/ml THC limit last year. He revoked it with fervor for three key reasons:
• The limit lacked scientific backing
• There was a public backlash against it
• It would have led to prosecution of the innocent.
Apparently the logical answer to this, according to New Approach Washington, was to mandate an even lower limit in their so-called "legalization" initiative. Sad...
There are many other flaws with this measure -- many. But if you're a patient, the new DUID limit should be the focal point. It will instantly and drastically change the lives of any patient who drives.
Anytime you get behind the wheel, you'd be a criminal, and risking a life-altering DUID.
Proponents of Initiative 502 are expecting patients to take a hit in the name of faulty "reform." It's not worth it.
The entire initiative is flawed, terribly designed, and won't bring us any of the benefits that true legalization will bring. I strongly encourage everyone looking for more information to visit SensibleWashington.org
, where we've done an eight-part analysis of this initiative, from the perspective of a non-profit working in our state to repeal cannabis prohibition for adults since 2010.
Initiative 502 is a faulty measure that would institutes dangerous new provisions. Washington State can do better, and patients deserve better.
We urge a clear "No" vote.
- "Scientific evidence on cannabis and driving is not yet sufficient to permit the selection of a numerical enforceable THC limit" ~ Grotenherman.
- "It is not possible to conclude anything about a driver's impairment on the basis of his/her plasma concentrations." ~U.S. Department of Transportation.
- "Substantial whole blood THC concentrations persist multiple days after drug discontinuation in heavy chronic cannabis users." ~ Karschner.
- "In some chronic users, THC may be present in blood for a period of days after past use, long after any performance impairing effects have worn off." ~ NORML's Paul Armentano.
- "This report demonstrates that a 5 nanogram per se law would be: 1) unnecessary 2) unsupported by the science; and 3) unlikely to significantly improve public safety.....Consequently, a 5 nanogram per se limit would convict the innocent, offering defendants little opportunity to demonstrate their innocence. As a result, the current law....is superior to a per se law." ~ NORML's Position Paper to Colorado's Legislative Workgroup
- "[U]nlike the 0.008% blood alcohol content level, the per se DUID is not established science," ~ Former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper
- "The truth is, zero-tolerance laws aren't about making roadways safer; they're a disingenuous attempt to create a powerful, intrusive tool to root out those who use controlled substances such as marijuana, regardless of whether they operate an automobile under its influence. This type of justice is cruel, unusual and bad public policy." ~ Nathan Miller, former Legal Analyst to the Marijuana Policy Project
- "The bill would set a limit of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of whole blood where, above that limit, a driver is automatically considered to be driving under the influence of drugs. This is absurd." ~ The Marijuana Policy Project urging their supporters to contact Colorado's Legislature, asking them to reject the same 5ng/ml limit mandated in Initiative 502″.- "There's a new front in the "War on Drugs" and its name is DUID." ~ NORML's Paul Armentano