Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Do Not Adversely Impact Traffic Fatality Rates

TEXAS: The enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult use and sale of cannabis is not associated with subsequent changes in traffic fatality rates, according to an analysis of traffic safety data published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.

“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” authors concluded.

Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization and the total number of non-fatal crashes.

Commenting on the findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety. These results indicate that such fears have not come to fruition, and that such concerns ought not to unduly influence legislators or voters in other jurisdictions that are considering legalizing cannabis.”

A prior study published last year in the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

Fatal accident rates have fallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.

Legislators Move To Delay The Enactment Of Voter-Initiated Marijuana Laws

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Legislators in a number of states are pushing forward measures to delay the enactment of several voter-initiated marijuana laws.

In Arkansas, House lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of legislation, House Bill 1026, to postpone the deadline for establishing the state’s new medical marijuana program by 60 days. Fifty-three percent of voters approved Issue 6 on Election Day, which called on lawmakers to regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis within 120 days.

In Maine, leading House and Senate lawmakers have endorsed emergency legislation, LD 88, to delay retail marijuana sales by at least three months. Under the voter-initiated law, rules regulating the commercial marijuana market are supposed to be operational by January 1, 2018.

In North Dakota, Senate lawmakers unanimously passed emergency legislation, Senate Bill 2154, to postpone the deadline for the enactment of the North Dakota Compassionate Care Act. Sixty-four percent of voters backed the measure, which gave lawmakers a 90-day window to regulate the distribution of medical marijuana.

Massachusetts’ lawmakers previously enacted legislation imposing a six-month delay on the licensed production and retail sales of marijuana. Legislators are also debating making additional changes to the law, including raising the proposed retail sales tax and limiting the number of plants an adult may grow at home.

In Florida, health regulators are also calling for changes to Amendment 2, which passed with 71 percent of the vote.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri strongly criticized the proposed changes and delays, calling them “an affront to the democratic process.” He added: “Voters have lived with the failings of marijuana prohibition for far too long already. Lawmakers have a responsibility to abide by the will of the voters and to do so in a timely manner.”

For more information, please contact Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director, or Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Marijuana And DUI – Laws, Tests, And Penalties

By Robert Russel

The acronym DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence and it represents the crime of driving a vehicle while affected by alcohol or other drugs to a level when the driver can’t operate the vehicle safely.

Depending on the state that you are living in, penalties for alcohol and the drugs may differ. For example, in California, penalties for both are the same. Whether you are consuming alcohol, illegal or legal drugs(with or without the prescription), you will end up with a DUI. Actually, the most important thing is the influence that the substance by definition has on your “nervous system, brain or muscles”.

Marijuana in the DUI cases

Marijuana is the most commonly used drug involved in a DUI. Although this drug is legal somewhere, it is not important in the case you are affected by it while driving. Actually, you won’t be charged with Marijuana DUI when you possess this drug (since it can be legal in some cases), but you will if you consumed it.

Marijuana’s effects include sleepiness, memory breakdown, changed sense of time, increased appetite, mood changes, although its effects vary among users. Some may be affected more, while some people don’t feel anything of enumerated.

Testing Methods

When police suspect an individual for a Marijuana DUI, DRE’s (Drug Recognition Experts) will first try to spot certain signs of it. Signs may include:

  • Red eyes
  • Smell of marijuana
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Dilated pupils

Afterward, if they feel you are probably impaired, there are some tests that are usually done.

  • Blood test. This test detects the presence of THC, also known as  delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, an active ingredient in cannabis and considered illegal. Although it is commonly used, it can’t reveal the usage of a drug within a couple of hours.
  • Urine test. This is the second possibility if you can’t take the blood test for some reason. It also checks the THC level and its inactive metabolites in your body.
  • Saliva test. This test is often used in Australia, but it is hard to conduct on the roads.

These tests aren’t always authoritative because THC can stay in the body even up to 30 days after consuming the cannabis. So every chronic user of cannabis, you should wait at least 30 days or more so that THC component will be out of your system. Because you can be charged with the DUI even if you stopped consuming it more than three weeks ago!

Penalties

Driving under the influence of Marijuana, an individual can be punished with:

  • 96 hours – 6 months in jail
  • Fine of $390 – $1000
  • Six months driver’s license suspension
  • Informal/summary probation of 3 – 5 years
  • Participation in a drug education class for 3 months

However, penalties vary according to whether it is a first or following conviction. The penalties also differ from the state. For example, the lowest fine is in Arkansas ($150), then in California, Montana, and Georgia ($350), while in Alaska and Texas fine isn’t lower than $1000.

As far as time in prison is concerned, an individual must spend at least 72 hours in prison in Alaska, and in Arizona not less than 10 days! The maximum of jail sentence is 1 year in most of the states.

If on the other hand have your fourth DUI or you caused an accident with bodily injuries or death, a Marijuana DUI elevates to a felony. The potential sentence will include:

  • 180 days in jail
  • 4-year license suspension
  • Five years probation
  • Fine up to $5000
  • Participation in an alcohol or drug education class for 18 months

Expungement for Marijuana DUI

Most of Marijuana DUI convictions are misdemeanors and are eligible for expungement. The things that are considered are:

  • He/she didn’t serve any time in state prison
  • He/she completed all terms and conditions of his/her probation
  • He/she didn’t commit a subsequent felony
  • No criminal charges are pending

As said, Marijuana effects are disputable and also is DUI. If you are among the people who are charged with DUI, you may try to hire a lawyer. The most important thing of all is speaking to a good one. A DUI lawyer knows it all about the defense for each substance and they also know how the judge will act about it, too. Also, the DUI tests evidence can be challenged.

Of course, if you are using Marijuana very often for whatever reasons, you may try to avoid driving for some time. Make sure that you don’t enter the car alone, so you won’t have to turn it on at all. You will surely save yourself from unnecessary hassle with the police and lawyers, and if cannabis affects you much, you will surely save others, too.

Federal Marijuana Protections Extended Through April

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Members of Congress have re-authorized a federal provision prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering in state-authorized medical cannabis programs. The provision, known as the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, was included in short-term spending legislation, House Resolution 2028, and will expire on April 28, 2017.

Initially enacted by Congress in 2014, the amendment maintains that federal funds cannot be used to prevent states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.” In August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the language bars the federal government from taking legal action against any individual involved in medical marijuana-related activity absent evidence that the defendant is in clear violation of state law.

Because the provision is included as part of a Congressional spending package and does not explicitly amend the US Controlled Substances Act, members must re-authorize the amendment annually. However, House leadership may prohibit federal lawmakers from revisiting the issue when they craft a longer-term funding bill this spring. Such a change in House rules would require members of the Senate to pass an equivalent version of the legislation, which would then need to be approved by House leaders in conference committee.

Maryland Governor O’Malley Targets Marijuana Voters

MARYLAND: Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is making a play for the marijuana vote.

The former governor of Maryland will speak with Colorado lawmakers and business owners on Thursday about legalizing marijuana, according to his campaign.

Colorado was one of the first states to legalize pot, and O’Malley plans to use the state as a case study to determine whether such policies would be successful across the country. He called it a “laboratory in democracy.”

O’Malley is calling for the federal government to loosen its marijuana laws as part of his presidential campaign. He would like to reclassify pot so it is not listed with more dangerous drugs, such as heroin.

ILL Gov Rauner Uses Veto To Call For Changes To Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

ILLINOIS: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday used his veto powers to rewrite a bill aimed at decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying the measure that lawmakers sent him would let people carry too much pot and sets fines too low.

Rauner said while he supports the “fundamental purposes” of keeping people out of jail and cutting court costs, such a significant change in drug laws “must be made carefully and incrementally.” Sponsors of the bill pushed back, saying the changes are “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to reforming the criminal justice system and contending the governor is working against his own goal of reducing the number of prison inmates.

Police Are ‘Turning A Blind Eye’ To Cannabis Across The Country, Experts Claim

GREAT BRITAIN:  Police forces across Britain are quietly turning a blind eye to cannabis use in order to focus their attentions on more pressing priorities, drug experts have claimed.

While the Government has insisted it has no intention of relaxing the laws on Class B narcotic, police chiefs have increasingly been taking a more lenient approach, with users more likely to receive a warning than face prosecution.

The debate around the drug laws took a fresh twist this week when Durham Constabulary became the first police force to publicly acknowledge that people who grow small quantities of cannabis for their own consumption would not be targeted by officers.

Seniors Are Seeking Out States Where Marijuana is Legal

CALIFORNIA:  When choosing retirement locales, a few factors pop to mind: climate, amenities, proximity to grandchildren, access to quality healthcare.

Chris Cooper had something else to consider – marijuana laws.

The investment adviser from Toledo had long struggled with back pain due to a fractured vertebra and crushed disc from a fall. He hated powerful prescription drugs like Vicodin, but one thing did help ease the pain and spasms: marijuana.

So when Cooper, 57, was looking for a place to retire, he ended up in San Diego, since California allows medical marijuana. A growing number of retirees are also factoring in the legalization of pot when choosing where to spend their golden years.

Medical Marijuana Referendum Won’t Be On Washington Ballot

WASHINGTON:  Washington voters won’t be asked this fall if they want to keep changes made this spring to the state’s medical marijuana laws.

Organizers of a petition drive to place a referendum of the new law on the ballot won’t be turning in signatures by this week’s deadline, the secretary of state’s office said Monday.

Referendum 76 would have challenged changes in state law that put the state’s largely unregulated medical marijuana system under the regulation of the Liquor Control Board, which currently oversees the recreational marijuana industry.

Medical marijuana dispensaries and commercial growers will have to be licensed. The law also sets up a registry system for patients and imposes a tax system similar to the recreational pot system.

 

Bill To Reduce Marijuana Penalties In Louisiana Passes Full Senate

LOUISIANA:  A proposal to soften Louisiana’s harsh marijuana laws by reducing penalties for possession continues to gain steam in the Louisiana Legislature.

The Senate voted 27-12 Monday (May 25) to advance legislation that would create a new penalty system for marijuana possession dealing with amounts less than 2.5 pounds.

The measure’s sponsor, J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, said his bill (SB 241) brings Louisiana’s marijuana laws closer in line with other states, “in a way that is more humane.” For example, the bill reduces the maximum penalty for possession from 20 years in prison to eight, raises the threshold for a felony-level possession charge and adds a second-chance provision for first-time offenders.

Under current law, the maximum penalties for possession of any amount of marijuana up to 60 pounds are a $500 fine and six moths in jail for a first offense (a misdemeanor), a $2,500 fine and five years in prison for a second offense (a felony); and a $5,000 fine and a 20-year prison term for a third or subsequent offense (a felony).