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Assemblywoman introduces new California DUI bill for marijuana

Posted on in DUI

A California Assemblywoman says the state needs a way to collect data on marijuana related fatal crashes. She says that, "One of the problems we faced as we continue to research this issue is that data specifically related to marijuana is not being collected." She apparently now hopes to have California drivers charged with DUI in order to have a new method to collect data.

She has introduced a proposal that essentially eliminates the necessity of the state to show impairment in marijuana cases. Currently, California laws on driving under the influence prohibit drugged driving. However, the Assemblywoman wants to change DUI laws in the state to allow convictions to be based upon any detectable level of marijuana compounds, or cannabinoids, in a driver's system. Marijuana compounds can remain detectable for weeks after a person uses marijuana.

Advocates for the legalization of marijuana are vehemently opposed to the new proposal. The measure would essentially make it a crime for drivers to get behind the wheel for weeks after using pot. The Assemblywoman who has introduced the concept to essentially eliminate impairment in marijuana related DUI cases admits that the language of the bill "is not perfect." She says she does not intend the proposed measure to impact Californians who have a prescription for medical marijuana.

Most Santa Cruz area residents know that the legal limit for alcohol is set at 0.08 percent under California's DUI law. The body metabolizes and eliminates alcohol over a period of time. Unlike alcohol, however, as the effects of marijuana dissipate, compounds can remain detectable for weeks.

The bill, as it currently stands, would make it a DUI crime to drive as long as the compounds remain detectable in a toxicology test, even weeks after the effect of the pot has completely dissipated. As the director of NORML in California puts it, "If you made an alcohol analogy for this bill, it would be searching for people's garbage and finding an empty beer bottle and automatically assuming they were DUI."

Source: Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, "Marijuana advocates oppose DUI bill," Neil Nisperos, March 22, 2012

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