LETTER: Use of cannabis does not represent any threat to the driving public whatsoever
Author: - March 8, 2013 - Updated: March 8, 2013
I am dismayed by the content of the article on HB13-1114 in the March 1, 2013 issue. Here follows my description of the bill and the outcome of the hearing:
The standard proposed in HB13-1114 would mean that having five nanograms of delta 9-THC per milliliter (cubic centimeter) of whole blood would create a permissible inference for juries that the accused was impaired by cannabis. The problem for the proponents of this bill is that there is no proof that this level is comparable to that set for alcohol. Slightly lower levels of THC (3 ng/ml) actually have been correlated with a lower risk of accidents than having none, and it is not clear that the proposed threshhold of criminal liability represents any increased risk at all, much less that posed by having .08% BAL. The scientific consensus on the subject (Grotenhermen et alia in “Developing limits for driving under cannabis”) is that “Overall, current epidemiological evidence on the effects of cannabis on accident risk is much less conclusive than for alcohol and must be considered insufﬁcient for deriving a science-based legal limit for THC in blood.” The Colorado General Assembly is not going to let the absence of evidence of risk deter it from asserting an irrational standard for impairment by THC.
Do these clowns realize that in just a few months, Colorado will be licensing activities to which dire penalties are now applied? The Establishment is congratulating itself for the existence of the Amendment 64 Task Force and greedily eying the tax revenue to be garnered from retail sales to adults, but there is not a hint that it will heed the express will of the people regarding cannabis. When people violate liquor laws and regulations, penalties are sometimes applied, but this rarely involves felony. Under current law, cultivating more than six cannabis plants, selling cannabis, or distributing cannabis are all felonies, and they will remain so until our supposed representatives change the laws against cannabis. There is some enthusiasm for taxing a new industry, but none for cleaning up the mess of Prohibition in Colorado; so far from doing that, Governor Hack (sic) and the General Assembly want to throw all the ensconced parasites in law enforcement a consolation prize for having lost Amendment 64: increased predation on the up-to-1,000,000 Coloradans who use cannabis and drive safely. A couple of the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee were at some pains to identify with the constituency of medical cannabis patients (Salazar and Lee), but this bill does not serve the interests of Coloradans in general or redound to increased public safety, and patients were not served by the posturing, or the unanimous vote in support of the bill. The Republicans on the committee spent the duration answering e-mails from constituents, online gambling, or some other activities requiring total focus on their laptops. Gardner came to after all testimony had been heard to urge support for what he termed an “outrageous” bill — the guy’s a lawyer in El Paso County.
This bill confronts every driver in Colorado with the possibility of having police demand their blood, whether they use cannabis or not, and it asserts a frankly unscientific and demonstrably defective standard for impairment. When scientific research has not established that having 5ng of THC/ml of blood puts drivers at any increased risk of collision than having none, and when many individuals demonstrate that they are unimpaired despite having many times the proposed limit for THC in their blood, it would be foolish to try to impose such a standard, but that is precisely what the General Assembly and Gov. Hack propose to do. The idiocy of criminalizing up to a fifth of all drivers absent any evidence that they pose a risk to other motorists should be obvious to people who drive and to people who use cannabis, if not to the pea-brains we have elected to represent us. The fiscal note attached to the bill has been manipulated down to an acceptable level — $12,000 — but rest assured that the insane enterprise of letting prohibitionist police target cannabis-users for DUIDs will not be without cost to Colorado as a whole, whatever official fiction that costs are borne by malefactors may be claimed.
Have you ever heard the adage: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”? Well, Colorado’s traffic fatality rate is dropping, and more than one academic supposes that medical cannabis laws may be responsible. Rep. Waller and the other fascist DAs involved cannot bear the thought that Colorado is proving cannabis generally safe. The reasonable course of action would be to direct the CDPHE to study the incidence of collisions for drivers under the influence of cannabis — there are plenty of people driving that way now in Colorado, and this would be the ideal place and time to conduct such a study. If Colorado wants to lead the way, having the wit to do some science is prerequisite. Dr. Rees of UCD has found that the lower rate of traffic fatalities in states that have medical cannabis laws correlates with the passage of those laws. Instead of listening to an army of parasites militate for a standard that makes no sense, take the time to answer the question they hope no one will ask: does the use of cannabis represent any threat to the driving public whatsoever?
I am puzzled that you still call your newspaper the “Colorado Statesman” — no one in the General Assembly qualifies as such, nor should we expect any to appear there.
Robert D. Chase
Colorado Coalition for Patients and Caregivers