The Montana House Judiciary Committee will meet Wednesday to discuss DUI legislation, House Bill 33, sponsored by Republican Ken Peterson, which provides that any amount of a “dangerous drug” in a driver’s body results in the conclusion that the person is impaired.
While the bill stipulates that if the drug has been prescribed by a licensed physician and taken as prescribed, the driver is not guilty of violating the law, it fails to include physician recommendations for medical marijuana.
The bill thus fails to provide appropriate protection for patients, according to Jim Gingery, executive director of the Montana Medical Grower’s Association.
“To exclude those drivers who are taking prescribed pharmaceuticals while omitting patients who are using a recommended alternative treatment is not in the best interest of the public nor is the assumption of impairment without proper testing,” Gingery said.
|Jim Gingery, Montana Medical Grower’s Association: “This is not a fair test of impairment”
”The Montana Medical Growers Association and the medical cannabis community are fully supportive of actions designed to reduce DUIs in the State of Montana,” Gingery said. “Montana leads the nation in the number of fatalities where alcohol is involved. While we applaud the Legislature for wanting to tighten the laws regarding driving while intoxicated, they need to take into account how different drugs affect the ability of the driver and how long traces of different substances may remain in the system but have no impact on the patient.”
“This bill, while seeming to be well-intentioned, needs to be modified,” Gingery said. “It does not take into account that there is no standardized means to test a person who is utilizing medical cannabis as a recommended treatment. The current testing procedures will read positive up to 25 days after a person ingests medical cannabis.”
“This is not a fair test of ‘impairment,’ ” Gingery said. “Any driver deserves the right to an appropriate, scientific-based formula to determine driving impairment.”
If the goal is to protect the citizens of Montana, then the legislators should hold off on making any changes until a standardized impairment test can be established for both pharmaceuticals and medical cannabis, according to the Montana Medical Grower’s Association.
Recommendations for how this issue may be resolved are contained in The 2011 Legislator’s Guide to Medical Cannabis, distributed by MMGA to both House and Senate members on Friday.
The Legislator’s Guide specifically requests that direction be given to the State Crime Lab to work with drug enforcement and the medical marijuana community to establish appropriate impairment guidelines for medical cannabis as has been done with alcohol.