If new legislation passes in California pot smokers who drive might be busted for a marijuana DUI - even if they haven’t smoked in weeks or even a month.
State Assemblywoman Norma Torres (D-Chino) introduced AB 2552 in late February with the intention of amending California Vehicle Code 23152 by making it a felony for any driver to have any level of any cannabinoid compound in his/her bloodstream or urine after being tested within three hours of driving. Presently, CA Vehicle Code 23152 only pertains to alcohol.
After taking heated criticism from cannabis activists for her unbalanced bill, Torres recently sought to justify the legislation by referencing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics claiming 30 percent of all California drivers killed by crashes in 2010 tested positive for illegal or legal drugs. Torres went on to tell the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin that making the bill into law would assist in analyzing stats to determine if driving while stoned actually results in vehicular homicide.
Torres’s comment begs the questions: Why couldn’t AB 2552 instead study the statistics first to ascertain whether or not pot causes car crashes? Why is the bill initially making criminals out of drivers who may not have partaken of pot in over a week or even over a month? Due to the excessive duration that THC metabolites remain in the human system, a person can test positive for pot even if he/she hasn’t inhaled in weeks.
NORML deputy director and HIGH TIMES contributor Paul Armentano is expected to testify regarding the bill in front of the Assembly Public Safety Committee and told the Daily Bulletin: "It (the pot DUI bill) is discriminatory, in that it would lower the burden of proof that is necessary for a state to gain a DUI conviction by setting a standard divorced from demonstrable impairment."
As to the fate of legal medical marijuana users, Assemblywoman Torres said she “intends” that the bill differentiate between medical and recreational users of marijuana - but she didn’t explain how she “intends” the bill to do so. She also admitted the bill’s language is “not perfect” and is open to amending it.
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