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Oklahoma Becomes Third State This Year To Approve Unscientific Per Se Limits For Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 11, 2013

    Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation, House Bill 1441, into law that criminalizes drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have any detectable amount of THC and/or its inactive metabolites in their blood, saliva, or urine. Under such internal possession statutes, known as zero tolerance per se laws, a motorist who tests positive for the presence of such compounds is guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation, regardless of whether or not there exist supporting evidence that the defendant was behaviorally impaired by such compounds.

    Residual, low levels of THC may remain present in the blood of occasional consumers for several hours after past use and for several days in habitual consumers — long after any behavior-inducing effects of the substance have worn off. The inert carboxy-THC metabolite, a commonly screened for byproduct of THC, possesses a longer half-life in blood and also may be present in the urine of daily cannabis consumers for several weeks, or even months, after past use.

    Oklahoma will become the 11th state to impose such a strict liability per se standard once the law takes effect on October 1, 2013. It is the third state this year to amend its traffic safety laws to include either per se thresholds or presumptive limits for cannabinoids.

    Ten additional states – Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin – already impose zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites.

    Five states impose non-zero-tolerant per se thresholds for cannabinoids in blood: Montana (5ng/ml — the new law, HB 168, signed in April, takes effect on October 1, 2013), Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml).

    Last month, Colorado lawmakers also approved legislation, effective as of July 1, 2013, stating that the presence of THC/blood levels above 5ng/ml “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.”

    However, according to the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA): “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

    In addition, a 2013 academic review of per se drugged driving laws and their impact on road safety found “no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.”

    NORML argues that it is inadvisable to infer behavioral impairment based on the presence of cannabinoid levels alone — a position that we outline here, here, and in public testimony here.

    70 Responses to “Oklahoma Becomes Third State This Year To Approve Unscientific Per Se Limits For Cannabis”

    1. Galileo Galilei says:

      There is an anti-science attitude that prevails in OK and the surrounding states. I’m glad I got out of there.

    2. Growyourown says:

      Out-of-state license plates: BEWARE!! If leaving Cool Colorado then driving through Oklahammer, you will be targeted by law enforcement as a potentially impaired driver and be stopped and tested for any ridiculous reason they can come up with! I think they plan on ‘cashing in’ on another states forward thinking. What do they care? You don’t live there!

    3. Dave Evans says:

      Dear Editor,

      Actually every single one of those people have indeed acknowledged marijuana doesn’t belong in schedule one and that the War on Drugs isn’t working. But then they turn around and say it is put there for “safety” reasons. Yes, do call them on their bullshit. No one belongs in jail because Chris Christie has his thumb stuck in his butt. End of story.

      The American people are less brainwashed than our elected officials or so it would seem. We can’t even get things with 85% and 91% opproval rates don’t get passed.

    4. Dave Evans says:

      And that last sentence reads better than our laws work.

    5. Reid says:

      Just when I thought Oklahoma couldn’t be any worst, I read this. Oklahoma is officially moving backwards, if you don’t hover your life around religion or oil 24/7 these people could care less about anything else. I could bet, that in the coming years we will be one of the last states to legalize medicinal/recreational use of Cannabis or capitalize on industrial hemp.

    6. Larry says:

      Oklahomans are just ignorant about cannabis.I’m not saying all conservatives are ignorant but there’s a lot of conservatives in Oklahoma.lol

    7. Voice of the Resistance says:

      The state of Oklahoma has a reputation to uphold,and if that’s what they want then let them have it. I won’t be moving there, to many tornados.

    8. Judy says:

      @Voice of the Resistance – The only reputation regarding Oklahoman’s is that they are the most ignorant people in the country! I agree that if they want that kind of stupidity to be their way of life it should be their right. However, I believe that a whole lot of them would love to leave Oklahoma, or already have, in search of a better life rather than live under the stench of their politicians.

    9. Voice of the Resistance says:

      Oh, I thought Idaho was the state of ignorance. judging From the results of last Novembers election it seems that Idahoans are more concerned with their rights to hunt, trap, and ride their quad runners on public land then they are about school reform, or legalizing marijuana.

    10. Matthew says:

      Why is this state spending that money on this ignorance? This state has been devastated by tornadoes, EF5 tornadoes might I add. Why isn’t that time and money going towards the clean-up and recovery efforts that are on-going in the Oklahoma City area?

    11. iliveinandhate oklhoma says:

      I don’t think l.e. will target out of staters.It will be everyone .I also know it is time for me to leave. Not only Oklahoma, but this whole police state of a country.

    12. Jared says:

      I’m from Oklahoma , the laws here are stuck the 1920s and its really quite sad. Our outstanding governor Mary Fallin is one of the most close minded people out there. The only thing she has done in our state is ruin non violent hard working oklahomans lives time and time again. sad excuse for a person that is supposed to be for the people. Everyone here keeps their mj on the hush because you will be thrown into one of our brand new state prisons and forgotten about for ohh 5-10 years.

    13. Benny says:

      I was born in Wagner Ok But have spent most of my life between Texas and Ca. The later years here in Ca. If they passed some law like that here half the drivers in the state would loose their driving privilege. I don’t believe in smoking while driving but you you smoke then get in a car and drive a couple hours later your no danger. Maybe some dumb young kid. No different then someone drinking all night and then the next morning driving while not being drunk but hungover like crazy. Most people know what’s safer. It’s a proven fact Marijuana is much safer then the legal and prescribed drugs out there.

    14. AshamedOkienative says:

      I lived in Colorado for a while and had to come home toI Oklahoma because I lost my little brother. He had been shot in the head by a meth dealer trying to rob him. The very next day I had been pulled over because my tags had been registered in the state of Colorado and my car was searched because the tags had supposedly given them probable cause. The person who murdered my brother is still running free and even though evidence shows otherwise, the sheriff’s department deemed his death as a suicide without performing an autopsy. They failed to tape the scene off as a crime scene and disbanded it before OSBI could even come investigate. So while my brother’s killer is STILL running free, I’m having to fight a petty marijuana charge for a seed after being profiled for have Colorado tags. The justice system in place here is completely out of whack and has no sense of protect and serve but instead profit and prosecute.

    15. AshamedOkienative says:

      It’s a sad sad situation that I feel terribly ashamed to say I’m from Oklahoma

    16. Gary says:

      How stupid are Okies? They’re so stupid that all 77 counties voted for McCain/Palin in 2008. The only 100% Republican state that year. Healthcare is not available for 25% of the state and in Eastern Oklahoma men’s life expectancy is actually decreasing. A nice place to live if you enjoyed the Dark Ages…

    17. trk says:

      I have lived in Ok my whole life, and i think this is the stupidest thing i have ever heard. I have had 4 back surgeries, hip surgery, neck fusion, a broken ankle, knee and several other surgeries that have left me suffering with chronic pain on a daily basis. I see a pain management dr every month, and they drug rest everyone every month, before they give out any rx’s for pain. So, because i take a narcotic for chronic pain, i could get stopped byê police and get charged with a dui! I function fine when i take my medication. But they are going to punish alot of innocent people. So, regardless of whether or not there exist supporting evidence that a person was behaviorally impaired by
      such rx. She better build more prisons! They will be arresting everybody, even if they medically need to take rx and are not driving impaired.

    18. Deonte says:

      I can not believe that Oklahoma is doing this what a waist. I can not wait until I graduate in May so I can get the hell out of here. Colorado here I come.

    19. Anonymous says:

      So, it’s safe to drive if you took a prescribed opiate yesterday but not if you smoked weed last week? That Mary Fallin is a joke.

    20. A Concerned Voter says:

      Isn’t there a way you can inform the officer when pulled over that they have a time limit to search your vehicle? — Yes there is, If you take time to read your laws…. Note the time your officer pulled you over, exactly. Even say the time to them when they approach the window. Don’t need to explain it at that time. They have 1 hour to get a supervisor to your car plus a court order to search your vehicle. If within that time they don’t comply you can go. Because that’s the Law! The people must help those that try to uphold the law, to UpHold The Law! Profiling is bad for the American Society.

      Least we not forget about The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

      “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

      The flip side is that the Fourth Amendment does permit searches and seizures that are considered reasonable. In practice, this means that the police may override your privacy concerns and conduct a search of you, your home, barn, car, boat, office, personal or business documents, bank account records, trash barrel, or whatever, if:
      the police have probable cause to believe they can find evidence that you committed a crime, and a judge issues a search warrant.

      So basically Oklahoma and other states are running with the above statement as “reasonable”, so pretty much you’re screwed. It’s best to phone ahead and let the sheriffs know you’re coming with a concealed/locked weapon instead.

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