Pages tagged "DUI"
The Arizona Supreme Court overturned a law this week that made it a crime to drive with any detectable amount of an illegal drug in your blood, including medical cannabis. This is an important victory for patients in Arizona, and we hope, the beginning of a more rational national conversation about medical cannabis and driving while impaired. Patients are at risk when lawmakers ignore the science of medical cannabis use and criminalize those who are obeying state medical cannabis laws.
Regular medical cannabis users will almost always have metabolites for cannabis in their blood or urine. Metabolites are simple compounds that remain in the body after we digest and otherwise process food, drugs, or other substances. Cannabis use is usually detected in a blood or urine test by screening the sample for metabolites of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active compounds in cannabis. These metabolites can remain in blood or urine for days to weeks depending on numerous factors. That means a regular medical cannabis user will test positive for metabolites long after he or she is potentially impaired to a degree that could affect driving.
Regular medical cannabis users may have detectable levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), one of the active compounds in cannabis, for up to two days after using medicine (See G. Skopp and L. Potsch, "Cannabinoid concentrations in spot serum samples 24-48 hours after discontinuation of cannabis smoking," Journal of Analytical Toxicology 32: 160-4, 2008). However, measurable impairment from medical cannabis use may only last a few hours. This means that a legal medical cannabis user will be in violation of SB 289, because he or she has a detectable amount of THC long after there is any potential for impairment.
ASA is asking medical cannabis supporters to speak up against SB 289 to protect legal patients from unnecessary arrest. The bill will be heard in the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday, April 30, so your California Senator needs to hear from you now.
Testing for cannabis and medical cannabis impairment is a controversial topic nationwide. Voters in the state of Washington approved an absurdly-low threshold for cannabis-impairment when they approved I502 last year, and rule makers in Colorado seemed poised to do the same. Why the zero-tolerance approach to cannabis and medical cannabis, even where it is legal? Certainly no one wants to see impaired drivers on the road, but the root of the issue is stigma. Zero tolerance measures like SB 289 ignore science and rely instead on the perception of cannabis and medical cannabis users as irresponsible and dangerous on the road. Stigma makes laws that enshrine discrimination plausible, and that in turn, gives medical cannabis opponents the chance to push back on safe access.
California law already makes driving while impaired by any drug – legal or otherwise – a crime. We do not need another bill to turn up the heat a little more – especially when some of those drivers are obeying the law. Lawmakers should reject SB 289 and rely on science and common sense when making policy.