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Driving in circles

This just keeps coming up so many times with a lot of propagandizing and very little evidence of a problem.

A proposition to legalize pot raises DUI concerns: ‘We are going to start losing folks in astronomical numbers’ in the LA Times.

“In the state of California we are going to start losing folks in astronomical numbers before we finally realize maybe we didn’t look at it thoroughly enough,” [Doug Villars, president of the California Assn. of Highway Patrolmen] said.

Really? Based on what facts?

Fortunately, the article does point out some of the actual points we’ve been raising for years:

“The use of marijuana is already there,” [Stephen Downing] said. “If they are driving under the influence of marijuana, they are already doing it. My question is, why is this an issue now?” [..]

Marijuana activists point out that just because THC is in the system of a motorist involved in a fatal crash, there is no proof that it caused impairment that led to the accident.

One point I found fascinating is the complaint raised that they’re having a hard time getting juries to convict, because juries are unconvinced that prosecutors are proving impairment.

Sounds to me like juries are doing their job.

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28 comments to Driving in circles

  • Cannabis is so different from alcohol that these scare stories from law enforcement have little resemblance to reality. Most folks I know that use cannabis will be the first ones to tell you that they won’t drive if too stoned. If a person is drunk they will gladly grab the keys and go for a drive anyways. The differences are like night and day.

    People have been smoking cannabis in large numbers since I can remember back into the 60’s. Now, since legality is proposed, law enforcement is in danger of losing their biggest moneymaker: arresting people for pot. Without a device to tell them if metabolites exist the truth is they usually can’t tell. There is nothing going on that distinguishes the difference between a person who has marijuana metabolites in their bloodstream and a person who is cold stone sober – in most cases these are one and the same.

    Law enforcement is afraid of losing their pry bar tool to harass and make money on the roads like wolves waiting to pounce on unsuspecting prey. Observing impaired driving function is not enough to equal the ease of breathalizer proven impairment. The law enforcement community better face the facts:

    There is no proven level of impairment for cannabis. Never will be.

  • jean valjean

    The LA Times will spin any anti-cannabis story they can concoct as part of their drug war hysteria.

  • strayan

    Good law abiding people do not partake in cannabis use because it is against the law.

    So why do the prohibitionists think these same good law abiding people will suddenly decide to break the traffic laws if it becomes legal to use cannabis?

    I mean if they respected the laws prohibiting cannabis use simply because the law is the law then why would they suddenly become scofflaws merely because cannabis prohibition has been repealed?

    …I guess there’s a reason they’re known around here as prohibidiots.

  • Frank W.

    Maybe arresting people for impairment ( starting with drunk driving) is how we forgive ourselves for ignoring the road carnage caused by age, anger, senility etc. Find a minority (drunks/dopers) that’s part of The Other and pound the shit out of it. Atonement, why not.
    And by ‘we’ I mean I have a turd in my pocket.

  • primus

    The whole problem with ‘impairment’ is testing for it. When I was young, the breathalyzer was being introduced. Everyone knew that it does not test for impairment, that each of us reacts to alcohol differently, and as well, each of us reacts differently on different occasions. The ‘problem’ was that without a true test of impairment, people who drove drunk were ‘getting away’ with it. Once the breathalyzer was accepted by the courts as well as per se levels of ‘impairment’, varying from .05-.08ng/l the search for a true impairment testing device virtually stopped. Now, we recognize that impairment is caused by many factors; fatigue, emotional upset, illness, distraction, legal prescribed drugs, OTC drugs, etc. We lack any way to test impairment, still, 50 years later. Isn’t it about time to move on and develop a roadside impairment testing device? I predict that a seasoned cannabis consumer with 5 ng/l will sail through such a test.

    • DC Reade

      The primary test of impairment is poor performance. Ingestion levels are a secondary consideration. I understand the original rationale for BAC testing- there’s a roughly direct correlation between blood alcohol level and impairment. But breathalyzers are hardly foolproof, they’re often calibrated inaccurately, and overzealous prosecution of DUI has been proven in some locales. http://peterlance.com/wordpress/?p=1543

      Now that recordable video is cheap and available, that needs to be the basis of any DUI case.

      As for the LA Times article- give me a break. As if the state of California doesn’t have a half-century of experience with millions of CA residents driving around high on pot. If there had been any measurable negative impact on accident rates, it would have been noticed long ago.
      I used to drive a cab in CA- no jokes, now- and I’ve had a few conversations on the subject with passengers who were police officers. None of them have ever noticed a problem with pot DUI, unless another substance was involved. Alcohol, practically always.

  • Swooper

    When Oregon legalized medical cannabis, and again when we legalized social use of cannabis, a couple local TV stations did their own driving tests, using non-users, new users, and experienced users. The results were pretty amazing. Experienced users showed little to no impairment, but new users did do worse than either non-users or experienced users.

    NHTSA did their own study a number of years ago, and found that not only did the experienced users drive as well as the non-users, but that traffic fatalities were fairly rare for experienced users compared to new or inexperienced users. NHTSA also determined that blood concentrations of THC is not able to be equated to impairment.

    Per se limits on urine testing or blood testing are not scientifically valid. The most used per se limit is 5 ng/ml. For a medical cannabis user, this means that they cannot drive at all, even when completely sober at the time of the test, because of the delay in the metabolites being excreted by the body.

  • Servetus

    I think those with a spectrum of drug experiences would probably agree that two or three shots of whiskey is overwhelmingly more potent and disabling than smoking a joint when it comes to driving a straight line, applying the brakes, and so forth. The problem is ignorance. One problem leading to a lot of confusion in marijuana DUI laws is that many, if not most of those enforcing the marijuana laws, have no experience imbibing THC. Some may not have any experience with alcohol due to personal religious restrictions. Under these conditions, confusion and panic from law enforcement is inevitable.

    We need to eliminate the scary rhetoric about stoned drivers that impedes good social policy decisions. Especially that coming from the government sector. That’s why I think a good use of the $15-million deployed to train law enforcement should include a full ounce of Humboldt’s finest for each and every public servant, and a maybe a liter of whiskey for comparison’s sake. We can presume public servants already know how to drink. Let law enforcement say know to marijuana. After that, we’ll have a common platform for democratic and scientific discourse on the subject.

  • jean valjean

    Britain has brought in Turing’s Law, a process to offer pardons for gay men convicted of the historic non-crime of having sex with other men. How long will it be before the other great non-crime of the 20th century, personal drug consumption, receives the same consideration?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/alan-turing-law-government-pardon-rachel-barnes-historic-crimes-a7370621.html

  • Servetus

    Beijing’s Chinese Academy of Sciences has succeeded in modeling the CB1 marijuana receptor in 3D:

    October 20, 2016 – At the beginning of the study, the team struggled to produce a crystal form–needed to obtain data to recreate the high-resolution structure–of the receptor bound with AM6538, a stabilizing a molecule that blocks the receptor’s action.

    When the scientists succeeded in crystalizing the receptor and collecting the data, the structure of the cannabinoid receptor complex revealed an expansive and complicated binding pocket network consisting of multiple sub-pockets and channels to various regions of the receptor.

    Cannabinoid receptors are part of a large class of receptors known as G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR), which account for about 40 percent of all prescription pharmaceuticals on the market, and play key roles in many physiological functions. When an outside substance binds to a GPCR, it activates a G protein inside the cell to release components and create a specific cellular response.

    AM6538, is an antagonist/inverse agonist that binds tightly to the receptor; it has a long half-life, making it potentially useful as a treatment of addiction disorders.

    As marijuana continues to become more common in society, it is critical that we understand how it works in the human body,” said Liu, who is professor and deputy director of the iHuman Institute of Shanghai Tech and is also affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    AAAS Public Release: International team unveils first atomic-level image of the human ‘marijuana receptor’

    The first author of the Cell study, [“Crystal Structure of the Human Cannabinoid Receptor CB1,”] is Tian Hua of Shanghai Tech University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing).

    Cell publication (paywall) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S009286741631385X

    • Servetus

      PROPAGANDA ALERT: This is the strangest NIDA-BS alert yet.

      In addition to the Scripps Research Institute issued press release on the research in China, which is also linked above, an odd, self-congratulatory, second AAAS press release issued directly by the NIDA itself appears to take credit for the CB1 research project done in China. The NIDA notes in its first sentences that it funded part of the project:

      The research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.[…]

      This study was funded in part by NIDA under grants DA009158 and DA023142.”

      However, a full text of the research article, minus the paywall, indicates a virtually non-existent role for the NIDA The text lists all the funders in its acknowledgements:

      This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China grants 2014CB910400 and 2015CB910104 and The National Nature Science Foundation of China grant 31330019 to (Z.-J.L.); National Institutes of Health grants P01DA009158 (A.M. and L.M.B.), R37DA023142 (A.M.), and R01AI118985 (I.K.); and NSF grants. We thank the Shanghai Municipal Government, Shanghai Tech University, and GPCR Consortium for financial support.[…][emphasis added]

      The NIDA association comes only at the bottom of the paragraph:

      The NIDA Drug supply program provided standards used in this study. A.M. is a founder of MAKScientific, LLC, a research company engaged in discovering medications for metabolic disorders with an interest in CB1. R.C.S. is a board member and shareholder with Birdrock Bio, an antibody therapeutic company with an interest in CB1.[emphasis added]

      Yes, the NIDA has standards, the kind of standards that allow Dr. Nora Volkow and the NIDA to take credit for NIH funding, and for research performed and largely financed in China.

      The NIDA press release, which appears to have been released first, stresses NIDA promos at the bottom of the report, and barely mentions the lead researcher, Dr. Tian Hua, quoting instead Nora Volkow and a researcher in Boston named Alexandros Makriyannis.

      The presence of the additional Scripps Research Institute AAAS press release on the China project is a response that appears designed to forestall a hostile takeover of the credit for the Chinese research by Nora Volkow and her bureau of deceit. This type of manipulative, bureaucratic, public relations nonsense calls into question Dr. Volkow’s fitness as NIDA director. She needs to go.

  • This is fascinating!:

    The Phylos Galaxy
    http://tinyurl.com/j9ljns6

    Ran into it when I ran into this:
    The Rise of Marijuana™ (Patent Pending)
    http://tinyurl.com/zav22xs

    Scares me in a way.

  • Mouth

    Greetings couchmates. I am typing to you from Barcelona. They have a wonderful cannabis society here . . . it is not uncommon to smell it out in the streets and you can buy seeds too. If you get a chance, visit the Hemp, Marijuana and Hashish museum . . . though you don´t get free vape hits like the one in Amsterdam and there are no plants growing, it is still a wonderful place (ot, have any of you listened to the death metal band, Cannabis Corpse–not cannibal corpse?) And they sell THC free hemp beer too in this city. Ya´ll take care and may the leaf be freer after the election.

    • Mouth

      I´ve yet to see drug prohibition stop black market funding . . . what about all those poor shmucks who die on the highway from road side bombs? How much THC is in the system of those who died from explosions? I wonder if we can prove that THC in the body naturally causes bombs to explode . . . what a bizarre chemical reaction.

  • Two Horses

    There’s something very smelly going down in Broward County–population 2 million and second-most populous county in Florida.

    There is an “imminent danger that a significant portion of the voting public in Broward County, Florida, will be deprived of the opportunity to fully participate in the 2016 general election,” the lawsuit says.

    His lawsuit cited a story in the Sun Sentinel which quoted an Oakland Park resident and former city commissioner, Anne Sallee, who said her ballot jumped from Amendment 1 to 3, omitting the Amendment 2 question about medical marijuana. The lawsuit includes a copy of her ballot.

    “The end result of this error is catastrophic and cataclysmic,” the lawsuit said.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/broward/article109574732.html

  • Swooper

    Ah, I am relieved. I hadn’t gotten my daily fix of DWR, and then I heard about a humongous DDoS attack going on, hitting the East Coast worst, but causing problems across the web. Several sites I visit regularly are not available. I was wondering if DWR had been taken down, and I’m glad to find it up an active.

    I find the FL situation interesting. Apparently a statewide amendment about medical cannabis was left off a number of ballots…printing error or nefarious causes? I hate to take up the conspiracy theory hat, but something unusual has occurred. From what I gather, the omission wasn’t on all the ballots statewide, just some from various precincts. Anything which keeps everyone from voting on their Amendment 2 has to be stopped in it’s tracks, and it appears that FL NORML is on it and moving fast. Good on them! Anyway, this would appear to be something the Rethuglicon party would do, using a trick to disenfranchise a couple million of voters likely to vote for the amendment.

  • Area Dude

    Tax Question:

    Will prop 64 in California create a 1-year tax break for all of the marijuana sold in California?

    Prop 64 creates new taxes and eliminates others. But there might be a time gap which creates an unintended tax break for customers.

    Recreational sales can’t start until 2018, but the sales tax exemption for medical marijuana seems to be effective immediately after the election. All sales in 2017 will have to be medical only. Therefore, if correct, that would be a tax break of about $50 to $100 million. That would be amusing for a high tax state.

  • Mr_Alex

    Melvin Sembler’s latest interview feel free to read and throw up, he is still not admitting his guilt on running Straight Inc:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/marijuana-amendment-faces-biggest-foe-in-gop-heavyweight-anti-drug-crusader/2299615

    • Servetus

      The Semblers and their good buddy, Sheldon Adelson, aren’t doing too well this election cycle. Mr. Adelson has a new nickname, compliments of the legalization movement:

      APRIL 27, 2016 — Everyone knows who defeated medical marijuana in Florida two years ago: casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who single-handedly pumped in millions to pay for scare ads that helped barely keep the amendment below 60 percent approval. But few remember that it was a St. Petersburg-based developer who created the anti-pot group that took Adelson’s money.

      Now that developer — GOP fundraiser Mel Sembler — is vowing to defeat the new medical marijuana initiative that’ll be on this fall’s ballot. Sembler has promised to raise at least $10 million to beat the proposal.

      Pot backers hit back hard at Mel today, calling him “Mel the Moocher” for funding his last campaign with Adelson’s cash and questioning why he’s again fighting a plan that reliably polls near 70 percent statewide.

      “It’s easy to talk a big game when you’re spending your rich Uncle Shelly’s money, I guess,” John Morgan, the personal injury attorney funding the medical marijuana push, writes in an email to supporters. “If there is one thing in the world I can’t stand, it’s bullies. I’ve made my living beating up bullies. Mel the Moocher is a bully. “[…][emphasis mine]

      http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/medical-marijuana-backers-blast-florida-developer-trying-to-defeat-plan-8419292

      Adelson himself has burned through $25-million promoting Trump this election, but it turns out Trump won’t listen (be a puppet of Adelson), so Adelson says he’s done with him. As the new owner of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Sheldon obviously doesn’t read much history. Had he done so, he might know that Alfred Hugenberg, a German newspaper publicist and Nazi sympathizer who promoted the rise of Hitler, had the same problem when Hitler was made Chancellor. Certain people just don’t listen–people like Sheldon Adelson, for instance. Adelson could have banked his $25-million had he not been stupid — or, as the old saying goes, the fool and his money were soon parted. The same can be said for anyone who spends their money, or someone else’s, attempting to prevent cannabinoids’ use as medicine.

      • Servetus

        Correction above, it’s Mel Sembler who has the new nickname Mel the Moocher, but Sheldon mooches as well, so he can be Sheldon the Moocher. They all mooch.

      • Mr_Alex

        Having spoke to some of the Straight Inc Survivors on Social Media, Melvin and Betty Sembler should be in prison

  • Servetus

    An opposition ad to Prop 4 in Massachusetts paid for by Sheldon Adelson, Strong Economy for Growth, SAM Action, Partners Health Care, and The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, has run into opposition. The new anti-marijuana ad is worn out scare tactics, little else. Maybe if the alcohol guys who oppose Prop 4 smoke some marijuana they can come up with something more creative next time.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjtmo2M3Exw

    See the internet rip the ad apart:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGG6lHui4DI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=537bNRLKWWM

    https://thinkprogress.org/a-deeply-misleading-ad-tries-to-derail-marijuana-legalization-in-massachusetts-b0e1b0189d7a#.cc0poijmn

  • jean valjean

    Do six people die for every kilo of cocaine?

    BBC strawman argument and DEA counting angels on a pinhead. No mention of course that the drug war is responsible for nearly all of these murders or that someone like Pablo Escobar could not operate without prohibition.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-37717848

  • claygooding

    Stoned drivers have driven every mode of transportation on every road ever built by man,,,they were the guys smiling and pulling the drunk’s wagons out of the ditch.

  • Duncan20903

    .
    .

    Gosh, I really hope that the medicinal cannabis referenda on the Arkansas ballot win. I do mean both even though only one will take effect. Sure, call me petty but that would send a definitive message to the DEA. Just in case you didn’t know, Asa Hutchinson is a former Administrator of the DEA and the current Governor of Arkansas.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asa_Hutchinson

    Wow, they change Governors in Arkansas more often than VPOTUS Joe Biden changes his underwear. 46 of them since 2015?

  • DC Reade

    From the Guardian:

    Inside big pharma’s fight to block recreational marijuana

    Pharma and alcohol companies have been quietly bankrolling the opposition to legal marijuana, raising questions about threats to market share

    https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/oct/22/recreational-marijuana-legalization-big-business

    • jean valjean

      “Purdue Pharma and Abbott Laboratories, makers of the painkiller OxyContin and Vicodin, respectively, are among the largest contributors to the Anti-Drug Coalition of America..”
      Err, the “Anti-Drug” Coalition of America? Oh, I see. It’s not a drug if you get it from the pharmacy at Walmart.
      And of course, The Anti-Drug Coalition and the makers of Oxycontin and Vicodin think we can just ignore this awkward fact:
      “…accidental ingestion of pharmaceuticals sends about 318 per 100,000 kids aged five years and under to the emergency room, according to government figures. The frequency of hospital visits from kids accidentally taking narcotic painkillers have increased 225% between 2004 and 2011, the US Department of Health and Human Services said.”
      Big Pharma’s drugs could kill your child but cannabis never will. I’m so sick of this bullshit propaganda.

      • jean valjean

        The Anti-Drug Coalition, (i.e. the anti hippie and black people coalition, also known as People We Don’t Like). Scapegoating exactly.