State lawmakers adjourned without moving SB 162, which sought to impose ‘per se’ criminal penalties to individuals who drive with trace levels (5ng/ml or higher) of THC in their blood — regardless of whether he/she is behaviorally impaired.
Although Senate lawmakers approved the measure, House members failed to pass the legislation prior to the adjournment of the 2015 legislative session. Any future efforts by lawmakers to revive this effort will need to be reintroduced next year.
NORML opposes the imposition of this type of per se traffic safety legislation for cannabinoids because the presence of these compounds in blood are inappropriate and inconsistent indicators of psychomotor impairment. No less than the United States Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) agrees, stating: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”
Moreover, scientific studies find that THC may be present in blood for periods exceeding well over 24 hours in some users — long after any period of impairment has worn off.
This proposed measure was an unscientific and disproportionate response to behavior that is already sufficiently addressed by present traffic safety laws, which criminally prohibit driving while impaired by drugs. The imposition and enforcement of this measure risked inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations.
NORML thanks those of you who took the time to contact your state elected officials and urged him/her to vote ‘no’ on SB 162.