DUI enforcement-Marijuana-decriminalization

Problems Testing for Marijuana DUI

How do we know a driver is marijuana-impaired?

All around the U.S. there are horror stories of passengers being seriously injured or killed by other drivers who are under the influence of marijuana.

Stoners will argue that, “I drive better when I’m high, ” but unfortunately for them science tells us that this is not the case. The National institute on Drug Abuse conducted a study with 19 participants in “the most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind to mirror real-life situations.”    Read about the study on marijuana impact on driving.

Although marijuana had a less dramatic effect than alcohol on drivers the study found it still impairs driving performance.  Researchers found the drug reduced the drivers’ peripheral vision giving them tunnel vision.  Drivers with blood concentrations of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving within the lane, similar to those with 0.08 breath alcohol, the threshold for impaired driving in many states.

Currently there is no federal regulation on the amount of  marijuana allowed to be in one’s system while driving.  Since legalization, both Colorado and Washington have agreed that the base level would be five nanograms.

No standardized marijuana tests exist

How do police officers go about testing for marijuana in a drivers system? Currently there is no standardized test for officers to use in order to determine the marijuana intoxication level of a driver.

THC rapidly leaves the bloodstream so any time delay before testing gives false readings.Marijuana can still impair judgement once it leaves the bloodstream, because the THC can remain in fatty brain tissue, for days or weeks.

States that have decriminalize laws are much tougher to prove marijuana intoxication since the person in question might legally be allowed to possess the drug.

Something needs to change

Within the past few years there have been multiple instances where “professional” drivers have been cited for being stoned on the job. Recently on March 28th, 2017 a school bus driver in Massachusetts was called out by students for smelling like marijuana.

He was arrested on scene but will most likely not face charges since there is no proven way to accurately test for the marijuana in his system.   Laws vary from state to state regarding what kind of background check different drivers have to go through.

For instance, in Pennsylvania school bus drivers are required to submit finger prints to the FBI, provide a urine sample, and complete a background check before being appointed the position.

However in Kansas, it is not required by the state to have a background check performed on a school bus driver, although the option is still available.

In 2013, the first full year after Washington state legalized pot, nearly 25 percent more drivers tested positive for marijuana than before legalization.

Also in Washington State, fatal driving accidents had risen 122% between 2010 & 2014.  Since dispensaries have opened, the number of drivers testing positive for pot jumped by one third.

The first marijuana related death in Washington occurred when a young man went to pass another car on the highway. He crossed over the center line and struck another car head on and then managed to hit another two cars.

The passenger in the car was also killed on scene but the driver he hit head on managed to survive the impact. Later on it was discovered that the deceased driver tested positive for marijuana.

On October 4, 2013 a young adult male riding his motorcycle died after being struck by a stoned driver.  The driver, Caleb Floyd, made an illegal left-hand turn into the cyclist killing him at the scene. Blake Gaston had just left dinner that night with his family and was headed home when he was struck.

At Floyd’s sentencing there was not one dry eye in the room when Mary Gaston, Blake’s mother, was speaking. She had this to say, “I heard the thud, and I knew — I knew immediately that he had been hit, the force of the impact resulted in a horrific death. I know because I was there. I watched my son die.”

Floyd received a 34 month prison sentence with an additional 365 days hanging over his head if he somehow violates his plea agreement with the court or his probation once he is released.

Unfortunately the California Highway Patrol doesn’t keep statistics on traffic accidents attributed to marijuana use. But, according to Prop 64 backer Nate Bradley; who just happens to be a former police officer, the new marijuana initiative will actually help to put protocol into place to test for impairment.

Better testing protocols need to come before legalizing marijuana

California is legalizing first and asking questions later. “The initiative would direct $15 million over five years to the Highway Patrol to determine protocols and best practices for detecting people driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including marijuana.”  Since Colorado and Washington haven’t found ways to cut out the stoned driving, why would California do any better?

More states across the country are seeming to adopt this relaxed marijuana policy and before you know it, a good majority of drivers on the road will have marijuana in their system.

 

Washington Cracks Down on Billboards Advertising Pot

Marijuana Dispensaries have been open for three years in Washington and it’s taken legislators this long to crack down on billboards.  Last week that passed a bill aimed at making the the signs less appealing to children.

Legislators passed SB 3151 which will try to limit how marijuana companies can advertise on billboards  The sign for Green Lady Buds in Olympia uses sex appeal to portray a certain image (pictured above).   Another sign that some people found inappropriate to young audiences had a large cat saying, “I’m so high right meow.”

Rep. Joyce McDonald Introduced Bill

State lawmakers don’t think the billboards should appeal to children in any way.  The new signs should use words, not pictures.  The bill has gone to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

State Rep. Joyce McDonald of Puyallup,  introduced the bill.  She said, “The people who have called me from my district are very concerned because every time they drive past, the billboards are in their face”   Concerned about impressionable children learning to read,  McDonald wanted to ban all the marijuana advertising on the billboards.  She doesn’t understand why the state prohibits such advertisements for cigarettes, but allows them for weed. Under a 1998 settlement agreement reached with 46 states, including Washington, tobacco companies agreed to stop using billboards to advertise their products.

420 Event in Vancouver Disastrous

Pot Rally Organizers Should Pay

The annual marijuana protest at Sunset Beach this year left an adjacent field in ruins. It will be fenced off and closed to the public for up to a month while park board staff restore it. Park board officials said much of the damage could have been prevented if organizers had installed a turf protector as they had promised.

Patients Go to Hospital, 66 Emergencies

The event also led to 66 visits to St. Paul’s emergency department. Of these patients, 10 were under the age of 20. The youngest was 14.  Patients mostly had consumed edibles that brought on complaints of nausea, vomiting and dizziness.  An additional 25 people were seen at satellite first aid stations set up to ease the burden on St. Paul’s, while 62 people were seen at a first aid station that 4/20 organizers set up.
There were eight driving suspensions issued for the consumption of drugs, and two drivers were criminally charged with impaired driving.   The event, which drew an estimated 40,000, disrupted traffic, while the smoke, noise and crowds made life unpleasant for residents.
The cost of police, paramedics and park board staff assigned to the event, along with the cost of cleanup and field restoration will amount to thousands of dollars, with the financial burden falling largely on Vancouver taxpayers.
Yet Vancouver’s mayor and council ignore these negative effects, police refuse to enforce the law — selling and consuming cannabis without a medical prescription is still illegal — and pot proponents vow their protest will continue in defiance of city bylaws or any other restrictions, even after the recreational use of marijuana is likely to be legalized in July 2018. That’s because cannabis advocates say they didn’t get everything they wanted — they object, for example, to restrictions on selling drugs to minors.

End of Festival, Coming Soon, Hopefully

Fortunately, the end is nigh for this kind of anarchic drug fest. Cannabis has become big business. Among the larger players in the Canadian industry, Canopy Growth of Smiths Falls, Ont., trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange and has a market capitalization in excess of $1.5 billion. Vancouver’s Aurora Cannabis is not far behind with a market cap of $841 million. It’s only a matter of time before big tobacco companies and major retailers squeeze out the illegal pop-up dispensaries and turn cannabis into a properly regulated industry.
In the meantime, the city should impose a financial penalty on 4/20 organizers and recoup as much of the cost of the event as possible.

Pamela McColl, SAM Canada

Neighbors generally object to this event held in Sunset Park.

Sunset field ‘trashed’: Will be closed for weeks following 4/20 event

psychosis-glass-eating

I Was Biting Glass and Biting My Way out of Delirium

I am not a long-time user.  I used casually for about six months, but then suddenly had a terrible experience with marijuana-induced psychosis.   I had moved from a state where is was illegal, to Washington.  A dispensary sold me something incredibly strong just recently, in March.   It was a joint mixed with a marijuana wax- I didn’t even know what that was.  I was SO naive, but there is literally NOTHING out there that lets consumers know that ANYthing even remotely bad can happen.

As long as I didn’t drive under the influence, what could go wrong?   I thought all pot was “safe.”    The irony is that I am nearly 40, a stay-at-home mom with honor roll kids, no history, ZERO history with drug usage, or ANY depression, mental illness etc etc.. NONE.  I never used marijuana before I moved to Washington. I literally just set out to listen to music and unwind while I got the house clean….awaiting the arrival of my husband who was gone on a business trip.   My kids were on Spring break, at a friend’s house.

About halfway through I felt very dizzy and unbalanced… So I thought I just needed to sit down, or maybe eat.. I looked at the glass of wine I had poured… and dumped it in the drain…. Then I had a sudden disturbing image of myself biting THROUGH the wine glass… It came over and over.  Bite the glass….. the words wouldn’t leave my head…. I’m biting glass.  My heart began to race, my hands began to shake. I felt freezing cold, yet was sweating. Then I was feeling a sudden surge of Adrenalin and was panic stricken.  I began having suicidal ideations, in MINUTES…

Shooting Myself and Biting Glass

Over and over and over… shoot yourself… bite through the glass… shoot yourself…and much worse.. it was as if a tape of my worst nightmares were playing over and over and over again in my head…and it was just as physical as it was psychological….. With absolute sincerity, I tell you that I barely made it through that night alive, and even the subsequent days and weeks… I still suffered terrible suicidal ideation……….

NEVER, ever did I have suicidal thoughts or feelings in my life. I am happy, well-adjusted, and a warm, outgoing person with lots of friends and a solid marriage.

Within days I began researching, because I KNEW what I had experienced was from smoking…again, I reiterate, I had nothing else in my system or history to indicate otherwise….and there it was.. All the research indicating that it WAS the pot.. Marijuana-induced psychosis is a proven thing and all too common. There is ZERO safety put in place in these recreational pot stores.  They don’t warn a consumer about strength, concentration or side effects.  It as if you are buying a glass of milk to them!! I later found out that marijuana wax is known as a “dab” and I am still unsure of what they really are…

No Warnings Against Psychosis!

The ER in Olympia Washington sees on average TWO cases of marijuana-induced psychosis a DAY!! Yet we don’t hear of this!? Why not? I would have NEVER tried any medicine or drink that could even remotely do this to me, but thought I was using something as harmless as a glass of wine because they say it is.   I can’t even fully describe the horror of that night as it’s very, very hard to revisit. Thank you for warning people.  I am glad I was able to use some of the resources and information you have shared to help recover…….People need to know.  Marijuana can be deadly.   I almost lost everything to very casual use.

I am lucky to have health insurance and lucky that my husband could be with me.  My husband had to take an entire week off to stay home with me! Again how fortunate I am and I’m in the position to have someone that could do that.

I am lucky in that I am NOT an addict or addicted to it. So not using isn’t an issue….. I would never smoke pot again, but the suicidal ideation was so intense and such a terrible and traumatic experience…. It is hard to describe how horrific it is was and I’d rather be tortured than ever experience that again…. I just never thought that was even possible….    From BK, Washington