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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chronic City: Taking the High Road -- Attorneys Say DUI Laws Shouldn't Apply To Pot

Posted By on Wed, Sep 9, 2009 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge Hey, watch where you're going! - STUDENTS FOR SENSIBLE DRUG POLICY
  • Students for Sensible Drug Policy
  • Hey, watch where you're going!
​Remember the first few times you drove high? You knew you were stoned, you knew it might be dangerous to operate a motor vehicle, and you drove like a little old lady.

This tendency of stoners to overcompensate for their impairment is one reason that Marijuana-related car crashes aren't in the headlines every day. With estimates of current Marijuana users in the United States varying between 40 and 100 million, you can bet that if weed really caused wrecks, it'd be a national tragedy on the level of drunk driving.

But you don't see those headlines, and you probably don't have anecdotes about "that time I was so high I couldn't even remember how my car got in the ditch." Seems all those stories have alcohol as a component instead. (That certainly goes for me, with 32 years of accident-free driving on pot. And, yes: There were a few alcohol-related crashes in my teens.)

Now, I'm not recommending you take a few bong rips and then hit

the freeway. In fact, it'd probably be best for everyone if you'd stay

your stoned ass home on the couch. There's a reason God invented pizza


San Diego attorneys Lawrence Taylor and Cole Casey, however, are arguing

that California's DUI laws shouldn't apply to Marijuana. While many

automatically assume that pot affects the ability to safely operate a

vehicle, Taylor and Casey said two federal studies do not support that.

Even the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML),

which in its understandable quest for respectability is very cautious

around the stoned driving issue, grants: "...emerging scientific

research indicates that cannabis actually has far less impact on the

psychomotor skills needed for driving than alcohol does, and is seldom

a causal factor in automobile accidents."


attorneys -- who could certainly benefit from the name recognition as "The pot DUI  guys" -- point out that while the California Department of Justice has

found that Marijuana impairs driving, the U.S. Department of

Transportation's studies contradict this."There are two federal studies

that have come to that conclusion that although Marijuana can impact

someone's short-term memory, when somebody is concentrating on the task

of driving that really there was no measurable impact," Casey told

10News in San Diego.

Another study by the

Department of Transportation (DOT) found that

"it appears not possible to conclude anything about a driver's

impairment on the basis of his/her plasma concentration of THC."

click to enlarge DUI Attorney Lawrence Taylor: Stoned does not equal drunk. - LAW OFFICES OF LAWRENCE TAYLOR, INC.
  • Law Offices of Lawrence Taylor, Inc.
  • DUI Attorney Lawrence Taylor: Stoned does not equal drunk.

Taylor, known as the "Dean of DUI Attorneys," points to another

more recent report. Titled "Marijuana and Actual Performance"

(DOT-HS-808-078), it also found that "THC is not a profoundly impairing

drug....It apparently affects controlled information processing in a

variety of laboratory tests, but not to the extent which is beyond the

individual's ability to control when he is motivated and permitted to

do so in driving." Voila!: The Little Old Lady Effect.


first of all, according to the DOT, there is no association between

Marijuana intoxication and driving impairment. But that's not the

biggest problem with detecting THC in bodily fluids.


glaring weakness of tests which detect THC, as opposed to alcohol

sobriety tests, is that Marijuana metabolites stay in the body for at

least 30 days -- long after any impairment associated with being "high"

is gone. Therefore the mere presence of THC or its metabolites in a

blood, urine, hair, or saliva sample is meaningless when it comes to

measuring impairment.

Bottom line, according

to attorneys Taylor and Casey: (1) Marijuana may not impair driving

ability at all, and (2) the blood "evidence" only measures an

inactive substance which may have been there for days.

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Steve Elliott


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