California Lawmaker Ends Effort To Impose Unscientific Drugged Driving Law

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Assemblywoman Norma Torres has amended her proposal, AB 2552, to remove language that initially sought to expose marijuana consumers to enhanced DUI penalties based solely upon the presence of THC in their blood. Assemblywoman Torres took this action after representatives from the marijuana law reform community and the public roundly criticized the legislation as being discriminatory toward cannabis consumers, including those who use the substance therapeutically in compliance with state law.

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As initially introduced, AB 2552 was unnecessary because California law enforcement already possesses the legal authority to authorize the collection of blood specimens from suspected DUI marijuana drivers. Prosecutors routinely use these results as evidence in DUI prosecutions. In fact, state prosecutors presently enjoy a nearly 80 percent conviction rate in criminal cases where suspects are charged with DUI. There was no justifiable need to lower the state's burden of proof in these cases by establishing a new standard that fails to require definitive proof of actual driver impairment.

AB 2552 was also unscientific and could have led to the wrongful conviction of non-impaired drivers. While most traffic safety experts acknowledge that acute marijuana intoxication may impair psychomotor performance, they also agree that marijuana-induced impairment is seldom severe - particular when compared to the psychomotor impairing effects of alcohol - or long lasting. Yet the presence of THC, marijuana's primary active compound, may be detectable in the blood of human subjects who have inhaled a single, low potency cigarette for as many as 12 hours, a length of time that is well beyond any actual period of impairment. In more frequent consumers, such as those among California's medical cannabis patient community, residual levels of THC may be present in the blood for much longer periods of time, making them susceptible to wrongful convictions.

As amended, AB 2552 no longer includes new, discriminatory DUI penalties. NORML wishes to thank those of you who took the time to contact your member of the Assembly to help us successfully derail AB 2552.

Article from NORML and republished with permission.

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