I’m not the only blog-writing toker in the Pacific Northwest taking notice of the latest group of medical marijuana industry players to oppose legalization for the rest of us. Dominic Holden, a former NORML activist and now writer for the Seattle Stranger‘s blog, The Slog, examines the motivations behind the No on I-502 / Patients Against I-502 / Patients Against NAW campaigns:
(The Slog) The medical marijuana industry—threatened by the prospect of legalization harming their business model—was a leading opposition to the 2010 legalization initiative in California. Similarly, medical marijuana activists in Washington have been opposing I-502.
The anti-I-502 campaign was filed by Martinelli and Gil Mobley, a doctor who operates a clinic in federal Way that writes medical marijuana authorizations, and the campaign has the backing of Patients Against I-502. That organization’s advocacy has been led in part by Hempfest director and medical cannabis patient Vivian McPeak along with marijuana defense attorneys Jeffrey Steinborn and Douglas Hiatt. All except Mobley have direct ties to Sensible Washington, a campaign that twice failed to qualify their own legalization initiative that contained no DUI provision and zero regulations.
…and of course, Dr. Gil Mobley will be writing a whole lot fewer $150 – $200 medical marijuana permission slips when any adult 21 and over can get and possess an ounce without one. (I know, y’all will write to me and say that your financial interest in the issue has no bearing on your opposition to I-502. I’ll take you at your word, but it is only fair for our readers to be aware of any potential conflict of interest, just as I’d tell them how President Obama takes a lot of campaign cash from Big Pharma.) And let’s not forget the well-documented animosity felt by Sensible Washington’s proponents when ACLU of Washington (the proponents of I-502) would not endorse Sensible Washington‘s I-1068.
Those activists have been hammering Holden (as they have me) over the dire threat looming if I-502 passes; namely, we’re “throwing medical marijuana patients under the bus” in order to get our “recreational ounce”, because all patients would be re-criminalized as DUID drivers thanks to the 5ng/mL per se DUID standard included in I-502. Those patients, they’ll tell you, could never drive because they use so much cannabis they’d never be below 5ng/mL. To bolster their claims, they’ve presented some of the DUID studies that Paul Armentano has done such a great job of condensing. Unlike Armentano, Holden, and myself, they didn’t bother to read them.
(Seattle Slog) The same scientific study that medical marijuana activists are using to blast a marijuana-legalization initiative, it turns out, debunks their own leading argument.
Yesterday, Anthony Martinelli, the treasurer of a new campaign to oppose pot legalization on the fall ballot, claimed that Initiative 502 would subject sober pot smokers to DUI charges if they’d smoked pot the day or week before. Over the past few months, that talking point has become the primary line of attack to stop legalization in Washington State—and now their campaign is picking up donors. But at the time of our interview, Martinelli couldn’t produce the study to validate his central argument.
Martinelli did send me that study later yesterday afternoon, and I checked it out, but it shows the opposite of what he said it did.
Martinelli is referring to the work performed by Karschner et al where 25 long-term regular cannabis users were studied over a seven day period. Of those 25 tokers, “most of the participants reported daily or near daily cannabis use in the last 14 days.” And of those 25 tokers, just one was above 5ng/mL – Participant S was at 7ng – and that was on the day of admission where she admitted she had smoked four blunts that day. Now, nothing in the study tells me when she was admitted that day, but logic dictates that it would probably have been during the workday. So, yeah, if you smoke four blunts between waking up and, say, 5pm, you just might be above 5ng/mL.
For comparison’s sake, Participant N is a 21-year-old obese African-American woman who admits to smoking pot starting at age 9. She admits to smoking a half-ounce per day and had done so that day. She didn’t even have detectable ng/mL when she checked in. Participant L, a man who’d smoked an ounce that day tested at only 0.4ng. The next highest level was only 2ng/mL for Participant W, a morbidly obese woman who’d smoked eight blunts that day. And the next day after not toking, Participant S was down to 2.9ng and Participant W was down to 1.4ng.
In short: Given 25 tokers who smoked anywhere from 1-10 blunts or from a “dime” to an ounce per day, there was only one who tested above 5ng/mL. For the vast overwhelming majority of tokers, if you wait 1-4 hours after toking, you’ll never be above 5ng/mL.
Now remember my belief that I-502 calculated the per se DUID provision would win more votes than it loses? Looks like I was right by an over 5-to-1 margin:
The reason we’re talking about this at all is because strict DUI provisions will help get this thing passed (and help stave off attacks about stoned driving that have helped defeat other pot initiatives, such as Prop 19 in California). A poll last May by Quinlan Rosner Research found that the DUI provision alone prompted 62 percent of voters to say they were more likely to support I-502, and only 11 percent said it would make them less likely to support the initiative.
So if we want to stop arresting 10,000 people for marijuana each year, we need to pass I-502 this fall. And we can ignore ginned up claims by medical marijuana activists that I-502 will ensnare drivers who are sober. For now, they seem to be fighting I-502 because it won’t let them drive high.
Also consider that the people so concerned with the welfare of the patients are asking you to vote against:
- finally providing patients with real protection from arrest instead of just an affirmative defense you need to pay a medical marijuana lawyer upwards of $10,000 to mount in court;
- providing patients who have moderate need a way to be legal without buying an annual $200 permission slip from a medical marijuana clinic;
- creating truly legal retail outlets for patients to acquire medicine aside from quasi-legal medical marijuana dispensaries; and
- establishing a legal way patients could grow and sell marijuana commercially.