Public Safety at Risk without Protection Against Stoned Drivers
Once again, public safety has been forced into the back seat by those who profit from marijuana sales with the help of the California legislators they influence.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee sidelined a measure (AB 2740) by Assemblymen Evan Low (D-Campbell) and Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) that would have made it a crime for a person who has 5 nanograms/ml or more of THC, the psycho-active ingredient in pot, in their blood to drive a vehicle. The Senate Appropriations Committee also killed a measure (SB 1462) by Senator Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) that would have allowed law enforcement officers to use oral swab tests to determine if more costly blood tests should be performed.
Legalizing pot is on the ballot in November, but the legislature is refusing to protect California citizens. Five months after Colorado legalized and allowed commercial marijuana stores, a stoned driver critically injured Colorado High School teacher Keri Phillips Headley. She is now an avid opponent of marijuana legalization.
“To say we don’t have enough information to determine impairment is ludicrous. Why do we continue to allow back door legalization of marijuana with so-called “medical marijuana” in this state without even setting a safe level of use or warning people not to drive under the influence?” asks Scott Chipman, co-chairman of Citizens Against the Legalization of Marijuana (CALM)
“Drugged driving and particularly marijuana-impaired driving are serious and growing problems in California,” Chipman explains. “In my own community of San Diego, we have had 2 people killed and one permanently injured by marijuana- impaired drivers in just the last two months.”
“Nevada has had a per se limit of 2 nanograms since 1999 and their jails are NOT filled with marijuana drivers,” says Phillip Drum, Pharm. D. and whose sister was killed by a marijuana-impaired driver in Seattle, Washington in 2012. “According to national driving fatality records, there have been over 1551 marijuana driving deaths in California from 2010 – 2014. This is the profits of “BIG Marijuana” being more important than the lives of Californians from the damages this hallucinogen causes on the roadways on a daily basis across our nation.”
Carla Lowe, CALM founder said: “Shame on those legislators that allow themselves to be influenced, putting the interests of drug dealers and illicit drug users before the need for safe roads and travel in California! Drugged driving and the associated fatalities have skyrocketed in Washington and Colorado with 33% of DUIs testing positive for marijuana. Yet in California we don’t even get the appropriate blood tests performed to track the problem, let alone the proper public safety policies.” (It should be noted that the threshhold for impairment in Washington and Colorado are both at 5 nanograms per millileter of blood. If the limit were as low as Nevada, there would be fewer accidents.)
We call on all Californians to reject legalization of marijuana and demand policies that protect all of us from drug impaired drivers, drug dealers and users.