Whenever one of us at NORML makes a point (sometimes clumsily) about the “give us an inch, we’ll take a mile” attitude fostered by some in the medical marijuana industry, true believers are quick to hurl slings and arrows at us, eager to shoot the messenger while failing to consider the evidence supporting the point.
Maybe this latest exhibit will wake some people up:
(7 News) DENVER – Sen. Nancy Spence of Centennial voted Tuesday in favor of the plan to consider drivers impaired if they test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, per milliliter of blood.
Spence’s decision gave the bill the support it needed to advance on a vote of 18-17 after an emotional debate.
Spence, who voted last year with critics who said there needed to be more study of the driving-high problem, said after the vote that she’s become convinced that the time has come for a bright-line standard to determine legal impairment.
“I’m just sick of the abuse that the state of Colorado has taken from the medical marijuana industry,” Spence said.
The measure has one more procedural vote in the Senate, where it is likely the same 18-17 vote will take place (or maybe not: contact your Colorado Senator today!) before it heads to the House, where it was last approved last year 51-14, and then to the governor for signature.
The per se DUID measure originally included other drugs, both illegal and prescription, but lawmakers decided that would be too costly. So when Sen. Steve King proclaims, “We are well on our way to a doped-driving epidemic that will match the DUI epidemic that we had 15 and 20 years ago,” recognize that the real “doped drivers” out there on Vicodin, Percocet, Valium, Xanax, Wellbutrin, Oxycodone, Sudafed, Ritalin, Adderall, meth, cocaine, heroin, mushrooms, LSD, ecstasy, or DMT aren’t going to be considered “doped drivers” by some reading on a blood test. Despite the fact that a blood test would fairly accurately reveal the impairment levels on those drugs, Sen. King and his fellow fearmongers are only going to blood test for the drug where a blood test tells you very little about whether someone is currently impaired.
Because they hate pot smokers. Don’t let them fool you into thinking this has anything to do with public safety, or there would be breathalyzer valet parking at bars. At their core, they just hate pot smokers and yearn to punish them for their evil, wicked ways. And nowadays, a few that were on the fence, a few that might hate pot smokers yet have enough compassion to support sick pot smokers, have come to believe that the evil pot smokers just used the sick pot smokers to sneak in quasi-legalization. We got them to buy-in to “medical” and then they saw “medical” doctors who take vitals in a tent over the noise of a ”medical” rap concert smoke-out featuring trade booths of “medical” $10,000 bongs being hawked by scantily-clad “medical” marijuana models and showcases of “medical” marijuana growers competing in “medical” marijuana judging competitions. Now, increasingly, they’re not buying the compassion line anymore, even when science backs it up:
Sen. Pat Steadman, a Denver Democrat, made the point that marijuana users who legally use the drug could be unfairly deemed impaired. Unlike alcohol, THC is fat-soluble, so blood limits can remain above the legal limit even when a user is not stoned.
“Some of these people wake up in the morning and roll out of bed at 5 nanograms,” said Steadman, who tried and failed to amend the bill to exempt card-holding medical marijuana patients.
Then when a backlash happens like this, or Chris Christie delaying New Jersey’s program for 28 months, or Chris Gregoire vetoing dispensaries in Washington, or South Dakota losing 12% points in successive failed medical marijuana votes, true believers will wail about how polls show 70% support for medical marijuana and how could they do this?!? The believers fail to realize that 70% support is for “we ought not imprison some poor dying cancer patient smoking a doobie after chemo”, not 70% support for “marijuana is the healing of the nations that treats everything from bad mood to deathbed cancer and is the safest therapeutically active substance known to man that should be available in numerous storefronts on every corner, and we ought not imprison anybody whose doctor says they’re using it medically, even those 18-24-year-old healthy-looking college kids moshing to Cypress Hill after visiting the medication area based on the card they got for their knee injury from snowboarding a few years back.”
But no matter how hard we at NORML try to point out that the issue here is public perception of medical marijuana, not the medical value of marijuana itself or the intentions of most medical marijuana providers, the next thing you know we’ll be bombarded with a barrage of electronic communication denouncing us for not recognizing the medical value of marijuana and hating on the entire industry. How dare we presciently observe that some in the medical marijuana industry may be taking liberties that could lead to electoral defeats like this one! If I had a dollar for every time some patient, all red-faced, teary-eyed, and barely restraining contempt and loathing, has given me “How The Miracle of Medical Marijuana Saved My Life” speech, I’d fund my own legalization campaign. So save it – we know the miracles and can cite the science, too, but that’s obviously not swaying the nervous lawmakers terrified by law enforcement of a “doped driving epidemic”. Here we have a lawmaker who knows this issue needs more study and knows the 5ng/mL limit is problematic enough to vote against, yet who is willing to switch her vote in order to set a “bright line” to rein in “abuse”.
We didn’t create the memes of “abuse” in medical marijuana or “doped driving epidemics”. We fight like hell to extinguish them, but some folks keep pouring gasoline on the fire.