Medical marijuana states have been struggling with how to deal with drivers increasingly under the influence of cannabis.
It's a tricky issue because weed is hard to detect. But as the state reported last year that nearly a third of California road crashes involved drugged drivers, one California legislator is proposing a "zero tolerance" policy for those caught behind the wheel with any amount of pot in their systems:
Sen. Lou Correa, a Santa Ana Democrat, announced this week that he has introduced SB 289, which would allow cops to slap you with a DUI if you have even a trace of cannabis in your system.
Of course, all you faithful LA Weekly readers who have ever straightened up in anticipation of a drug test for a prospective job know that weed can stay in your system for two, three weeks and beyond, at which point you're far from stoned.
A DUI for weed you smoked last month? Yep. According to a statement from Correa's office:
SB 289 would join 17 other states and make it illegal for a person to drive a vehicle if his or her blood contains any detectable amount of Schedule I, II, III or IV drugs.
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs would be excepted. Medical marijuana would not, a Correa aide confirmed to the Weekly.
Driving under the influence of illegal drugs is dangerous and cannot be tolerated. Creating a zero tolerance drugged driving policy will equip law enforcement with the tools needed to keep our communities and roads safe.
Americans for Safe Access, a marijuana decriminalization group, will not tolerate this bill, however.
Spokesman Kris Hermes told the Weekly this:
... We strongly oppose a bill that would criminalize the entire patient population of California, hundreds of thousands of people would be at risk without necessarily being impaired.
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He said the organization was lobbying Correa for an exception that would apply to legal medical cannabis users:
We are working to try and carve out an exception in the bill for qualified medical marijuana patients, but unless we can do so we strongly oppose the legislation as it stands.
Note here that at least one other California legislator has tried a zero-tolerance approach with no success so far. There's still hope for medical patients.