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Proposed Marijuana DUI Law Fails in California

Proposed Marijuana DUI Law Fails in California
Office of Jim Frazier

Phew, many of you are saying.

A bill that would have made the presence of just a little itty bit of weed in your bloodstream, even if you toked up a few days ago, worth a DUI prosecution was killed in the California legislature recently. The legislation was nixed by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

AB 2500 by Assemblyman Jim Frazier would have imposed a 2 nanograms per milliliter THC blood limit on the state's drivers. Medical marijuana defenders were outraged because THC metabolites can stay in your blood days after the high has worn off:

They argued the law would, de facto, make regular medical marijuana users DUI drivers, even if they weren't actually impaired behind the wheel.

Frazier is a Democrat from Oakley, California who changed the bill, likely after outrage followed the original version that would have triggered DUI prosecutions for drivers caught with any discernible amount of pot in their systems.

The pro-marijuana group NORML:

 ... The bill would make marijuana users liable for DUI regardless of whether they were actually impaired at the time.

The revised proposal still would have made it illegal for drivers to have low amounts of any federally illicit narcotic - cocaine, meth, heroin - in their blood streams.

And it was still stricter than the 5 nanograms per milliliter blood-THC standard used in Colorado, a limit also being buzzed about by some prosecutors right here in California.

Local district attorneys and city attorneys say stoned driving is on the increase because of the prevalence of medical marijuana retailers in California. They want new tools for prosecuting the crime.

Marijuana DUIs are harder to prove than drunk driving, though, because there's no scientific standard that's the equivalent of California's .08 blood-alcohol limit.

NORML questions why a stoned driving law would be needed at all. The group claims:

 ... Even while marijuana usage has been increasing over the past decade, accident rates and DUI arrests in California have been declining.

Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews .


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