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.

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

    1. Dave Evans says:

      Ignorance promoted as a safety issue.

      Mary Fallin, you’re a moron tool.

    2. Dave Evans says:

      I just read the whole law and it doesn’t make any sense. They just keep saying over and over the marijuana is basically the same thing as alcohol. Doesn’t this ivalidate the law? How does one because “intoxicated” by a non-toxic substance? Lies, Lies and more Lies.

      [Paul Armentano responds: The relevant provision of this amended law is as follows:

      Section 11-902. A. It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this section for any person to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state, whether upon public roads, highways, streets, turnpikes, other public places or upon any private road, street, alley or lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings, who:

      … 3. Has any amount of a Schedule I chemical or controlled
      substance, as defined in Section 2-204 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma
      Statutes, or one of its metabolites or analogs in the person’s
      blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid at the time of a test
      of such person’s blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid
      administered within two (2) hours after the arrest of such person;]

    3. John Malmo says:

      Query whether the courts will find the laws unconstitutional because per se laws lack rational basis.

    4. TheOracle says:

      Ouch Oklahoma! Tornadoes and now this crap.

      How many more forced rehabilitation profits will there be? You know, after arrest they do a piss test and if they find anything it’s automatic drug counseling and before you know it you found religion or whatever. X number of months of re-education classes and surprise piss tests, probation. And the person doesn’t even have to be high at the time of the test. All they gotta do is take you downtown and … Effinsux

      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Then the same for alcohol. If they detect any amount of alcohol in your system, same shit: drug counseling and into a forced testing program and probation. Bitches gotta be tough on drugs then be tough on drugs, including alcohol. What is the equivalent in alcohol like Breathalyzer for 1 ng/ml, 2, 3, etc.? This looks like a job for MADD. Sick ’em!

      Creeque Alley


      The Mamas and the Papas

    5. Anonymous says:

      Again I see the day the Goverment doesn’t waist a dime locking up pot smokers, you just won’t be able to drive a car, hold a job, get a loan, rent an apartment, adopt a child or even raise your natural child… Millionairs toke up.

    6. Bob says:

      Who are the winners when this legislation is enacted and who are the main lobbyist pushing states towards zero tolerance? Unscientific guess is drug testing companies and federal government efforts to stop forward momentum of legalization.

    7. JJ says:

      when will we split and form a country that is eco-friendly and let the people that want to destroy themselves have their wish? I am tired of calling myself an American, what does it mean? to kill our own? to destroy people for nothing? if any other country declared war on their own people with such immoral proclamations, we would have already invaded and declared a democracy…and yeah, we would have invaded, we have oil….

    8. Hope says:

      We seem to be spiraling. We make some progress then take 10 steps back! When is our gov’t going to admit that prohibition was a scam, they’ve lied to us from the beginning, The war on drugs was a smokescreen for them getting their patent #6630507. (They were applying for this patent at the same time they were classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug!)Utter hypocrisy!

    9. Politics of science says:

      It’s obvious that politics are being applied to science and not the other way. ng/ml is a scientific measure of quantity of THC and 1, 2, and 5 are arbitrary numbers these rednecks have placed on the limit. It looks like these idiotic ‘lawmakers’ have lost their brain cells to alcohol that qualifies for schedule 1 status and is the most dangerous drug in the world because it incapacitates you, unlike pure cannabis without the herbicides (no thanks to the US army) pesticides and PCP sprinkled on it. Mix alcohol with medicine and the medicine becomes highly dangerous. Ban alcohol!

    10. Keith Grayson says:

      After 100+ years of Sisyphean efforts,there
      are still those in power who want to proceed with endless acts of futility,creating a black market and funding source that is untaxed and unstoppable.
      I realize that 50% of the populace have below average IQ’s, but how do those morons get into positions of power?
      What they are doing is eroding the common respect for the law of the land and that is too bad, but it sure fills up their prisons which is the real reason they force their rules on the majority.
      America is not and has never been the bastion of freedom we wish it were.
      The statue of Liberty was picketed by women who had no right to vote! when it was presented to America, that says a lot right there! not to mention n the black American story