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Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill

This is ominous. The The Ohio Senate voted 30-1 yesterday to approve legislation (SB 8) criminally sanctioning any person who operates a motor vehicle if trace levels of marijuana or non-psychoactive marijuana metabolites (compounds produced from the chemical changes of a drug in the body) are present in their blood or urine.

Why is it bad and ominous? Because traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana stays in your system for up to a month. So the law will apply to and punish sober drivers who may have smoked weeks or days ago. According to NORML's Paul Armentano (received by e-mail, no link yet):

This legislation seeks to define sober drivers as if they were intoxicated," he said. "Someone who smokes marijuana is impaired as a driver at most for a few hours, certainly not for days or weeks. To treat all marijuana smokers as if they are impaired, even when the drug's effects have long worn off, is illogical and unfair."

Before you breathe a sigh of relief because you don't live in Ohio, consider this:

Similar laws classifying motorists who test positive for trace amount of illicit drugs or drug metabolites in their bodily fluids as criminally impaired have been enacted in twelve US states: Arizona, Georgia, Illinois,Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin.

So, where can you move to and be safe from these kinds of law? Of all places, Germany:

In January, a German law defining motorists with any detectable level of drugs or marijuana (THC) in their blood as per se impaired was struck down by the German Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

More info on the law is available here. For driving and marijuana, go here.

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  • The boys in government like many people in prison's, and when that person is put in prison say good by to social benefits, if you don't understand that do the work and find out what i mean, our state governments are the snipers on the hill, third world here we come.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#2)
    by roy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 03:44:04 PM EST
    It's just a way for them to say how tough on crime they are. They probably already have a campaign speech written for a few years later, talking about how to solve the prison over-crowding problem they create. (this is my token "I don't always disagree with TL" post)

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#3)
    by Adept Havelock on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 03:53:23 PM EST
    What I found interesting was the thresholds: Heroin: 2,000 nanograms of heroin per milliliter in urine, or 50 nanograms per milliliter in blood. Cocaine: 150 nanograms of cocaine per milliliter in urine, or 50 nanograms per milliliter in blood Marijuana: 10 nanograms of marijuana per milliliter in the person's urine, or two nanograms per milliliter in blood. A nanogram is one-billionth of a gram and a milliliter is a unit of volume equal to one-thousandth of a liter. Interesting. The less damaging the substance, the lower the threshold. I wonder if someone could get to the 10ng threshold simply by being exposed to secondary smoke at a concert or some such. The "Drug" Warriors appear to have their priorities backward, at least to me.

    Before you Lefties freak out, ask yourself this: How will 'they' get your urine or blood? Probably only if you are in a serious accident, or if you are visibly impaired. So don't worry Kdog, no ones going to see your green stream.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#5)
    by roy on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 04:33:20 PM EST
    Neocon -- What makes you think it's an exclusively Left ideal that the government shouldn't legislate away medical fact about what effect chemicals have on the body?

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#6)
    by TChris on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 04:45:49 PM EST
    One scary aspect of this law: a driver who smokes in a country where THC is legal seemingly violates this law by driving in Ohio, long after the effects of the THC have passed, simply because metabolites are hanging around in the driver's blood (unbeknownst to the driver). Thus a driver who has broken no law gets labeled a drunk driver due merely to the non-impairing contents of her blood. Neocon: your idyllic world does not square with reality. In the real world, cops will pull you over for speeding, get a whiff of alcohol, say that you failed field tests, and compel you to give a blood sample, all without any evidence of impaired driving whatsoever. Happens all the time, and if it happens to someone who smoked a few days before making the mistake of driving in Ohio, an impaired driving prosecution will follow.

    TChris; I've taken a few roadside sobriety tests in my younger days. I never failed any of them (although I probably should have). The cops I dealt with were always good people who were looking out for everyone, even me. I know you lefties think "the man" is out to get you all, but cops are just people, like you and me.

    Doing Drugs is illegal dumby leftys
    First off you could appeal this if you are recovering, and if your not you shouldnt do drugs, so its another way of punishing you for doing drugs, also if you are from a diffrent country, which alows you to smoke pot, or mary jane, then they just tell the cop that it is legal in there country and they have leftover thc in there system and the cop wont give you a dui or anything,Dont Do Drugs You Damn Hippies

    Neocon: In many if not most states where an officer suspects you are under the influence of a drug (not alcohol) they can ask for a urine test. Your refusal constitutes refusal of a chemical test. You just lost your license for a year. Fighting a driving while impaired by drugs charge is not cheap.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#11)
    by yank in london on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 05:14:23 PM EST
    Dear righty tighty - why is cannabis illegal? Whilst not entirely benign it is significantly less damaging than either tobacco or alcohol. Both of the later two drugs are rather difficult to produce on your own. (I know you can make beer or wine in your kitchen but as someone who has done both in the past the results aren't always all palatable.) Cannabis is a weed that even someone with a brown thumb can grow in their garden with hardly any effort. Ergo the large corporations will find it difficult to profit from it and the government will find it difficult to tax. If it were hard to produce it would have been legal a long time ago. Fortunately some progressive governments (the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Denmark, Canada and increasingly the UK) are starting to see the light and at least decriminalising possesion and consumption.

    That being said, I find it hard to swallow that a cop will "say he smells alchohol" or "say you failed a roadside sobriety test" unless there is at least a bit of truth to it. [Neocon, you have just been limited to four comments a day on TalkLeft. You have 17 posted already. Come back tomorrow, if you must, and pace yourself. All in excess of four will be deleted.]

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#12)
    by Walter on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 05:39:35 PM EST
    My plan to keep Social Security solvent has the government passing out free cigarettes

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:15:22 PM EST
    so its another way of punishing you for doing drugs
    Exactly right! (pun intended) This has zero to do with keeping the roadways safe, and everything to do with punishing marijuana users. As Adept mentioned, the cocaine threshold is out of your system in a day or two, marijuana anywhere from 7-30 days. Until they find the funding (they always do for these types of things) to switch to hair tests, which can go back 90 days. Possible scenario...Some slob smokes mj the day before some old lady runs a stop sign and causes a wreck. He goes to the hospital, they run his blood and find the evil THC, he gets blamed for the accident, arrested, fined, punished...whatever. Yeah, great freakin' law.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#14)
    by kdog on Thu Feb 17, 2005 at 07:17:44 PM EST
    Can't resist the dear troll. Why do you hate freedom?

    We've had this law for a while in Arizona. And worse, If you get whacked for "drivng with a drug or its metabolite in your body," you lose your license for a year whereas blowing way over the limit for alcohol only results in a 90 day suspension! Quite a few people who aren't under the influence of anything get nailed in this state. Insane.

    Neocon, the cops will just beat it out of you, that is how the cops will get your blood.

    similar to a proposed federal law where you could lose your drivers license if caught smoking pot IN YOUR HOUSE. The morals police in Ohio are out of control but they only do it because they are following the lead of the losers in DC

    wow first a bill introduced threatening academic freedom on college campuses and now this. I agree with the anon who said the morals police are out of control here. I grew up in Ohio and it was doubtful I would return, but with ill-conceived laws and knee-jerk style legislature they are composing that return in now very unlikely. I am not alone though as young people are fleeing from the state as quickly as they can, maybe this is a problem the legislature should address?

    If you could actually examine every one of the billion "parts" that make up the ppm count you would find that ther are many substances present that we aren't even aware of. Don't you know that there is virtually one part per billion of some illicit substance in all of us. How did it get there? ...maybe off of our contaminated US currency or maybe just off of a door handle that the prior person used... At any rate we all have DMT in our bodies (brains) all the time so we're all in posession or "under the influence". No More Drug War.

    Sadly, kdog, I guess that exciting getaway to Cleveland is off...

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 07:08:25 AM EST
    Yeah mfox, no tourist dollars from me for the "mistake by the lake".

    Adept Havelock says What I found interesting was the thresholds: Interestingly, the urine levels have absolutely nothing to do with intoxication/impairment. The thresholds were originally a reflection of the capability of hte instrumentation of the time. Blood levels are pretty much the same thing. No reputable toxicologist can say that x ng/ml will result in a particular behavior. Again, the thresholds reflect the sensitivity of the instrumentation. By the same token, no toxicologist can say that 0.080 gm% ethanol will result in impairment in a particular individual, either. The 0.080 threshold is a legal definition, i.e., the legislature says that if you're above the 0.080 threshold, you are, by fiat, too impaired to operate a motor vehicle. So the same logic (or lack thereof) could be applied to any other active principle (not to inactive metabolites, however). The legislature passes a law that says "If your blood contains >2 ng/ml THC, then you are, by definition, impaired". That doesn't mean you're actually impaired, just that you're above the legislative threshold. This ain't science, folks, so don't blame the science. Blame the legislators.

    yank in London.. why is cannabis illegal? Good question. It's been illegal for a long time and the reasons differ depending on who you talk to. Unfortunatly the government, in their zeal to protect the citizens, pass laws that don't make a lot of sense, (the 55MPH speed limit comes to mind) and it takes years to get these stupid laws repealed or at least ignored. It's just one of the things we all have to deal with.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 09:59:53 AM EST
    Right on BB. As I said on another thread, it seems prohibition of marijuana is met with disdain by the right and the left. Only polticians seem to be for it, as well as those who profit from it.

    You're right, rightytighty, the only smokers should be scientists like Carl Sagan.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Fri Feb 18, 2005 at 12:33:35 PM EST
    Who was the one brave, intelligent sould who voted nay? He deserves a raise, or a medal, or something.

    kdog it was Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss (D., Cleveland)

    This is depressing news. We are a little bit closer to becoming a police state. I'll have to remember never to visit Ohio or any of the other states (11, i beleive) that have such laws. The saddest part about the whole thing is that most people out there don't really seem to care.

    What about marinol -- which is a legal drug containing THC? Cocaine is also a perscription drug. Get eye surgery, and a DUI.

    Compelled to give blood? I don't think so. Forced to take a breathalyzer? I don't think so. Stand up for your rights, and accept the consequences is the only way to slow the erosion of civil rights in this evolving police state.

    Re: Ohio Senate Passes Bad 'Drugged Driving' Bill (none / 0) (#31)
    by Dadler on Sat Feb 19, 2005 at 09:37:24 AM EST
    more madness in the puritanical, irrational, fact-bereft war against pot. not an ounce of brains in the whole lot who came up with this one. there's a compound in carrots that can make you depressed. i don't want depressed people driving around me. test for carrot compounds. meanwhile, booze it up boys --suck down america's national drug all you want. and not that commie, lefty, weed stuff. if bob marley liked it, it can't be good. so sayeth the right.