Guest Post: "Cannabis - A Long 'Signal of Misunderstanding'", by OOOBuck

TFMR regular, OOOBuck, offers some weekend reading and a history lesson.

Cannabis - A Long 'Signal of Misunderstanding'

by, OOOBuck

Whether you approve of it or not, cannabis reform is coming to your state where it will soon be available for 'recreational' use.  Despite some alarmist views (including a few within Turdistan), its legalization will not herald the downfall of our society (the central banks are in charge of that) but will be embraced by both business and government as an opportunity for economic growth and increased tax revenue.  I believe those expectations are realistic.

      

Not unlike the casino craze that began a few decades ago, every government in the country will soon be clamoring for its piece of the marijuana revenue pie.  And like the initial craze for building new and bigger casinos, interest will gradually subside.  Of course, marijuana will never be just a fad but as its use becomes more commonplace, it will no longer occupy the role of forbidden fruit but rather, the second shelf of your medicine chest.

So what's your problem?

There are a few very real concerns; driving under the influence being foremost.  Every idiot with smoke pouring out of his ears can hop into his car and drive to the nearest Piggly Wiggly to buy a shopping cart full of Cheez Balls and frozen pizzas. One day, they may even add some fresh bud to their shopping cart. Obviously, highway safety will require much better testing methods than currently exist.
Also, lethargy is something we all experience from time to time but the relaxation experienced while under the influence of THC (marijuana’s active ingredient) may negatively impact workplace performance, productivity and safety.  Again, testing methods need to be improved and appropriate safeguards set in place.  This will mean more rules and regulations, all impediments to our personal freedoms in the name of public safety.

So is it worth it?

Only when you come to realize that marijuana and its active components have been a part of human society and medicine for more 5,000 years (almost as long as gold).  This herb has been extensively studied and repeatedly shown to provide countless benefits.  I won't begin to list its benefits here as there are voluminous studies on the subject.  Just google it - reliable sources, extensive research.... it's all there.  And of course, it is not just in medical applications affecting our bodies that it is shown to be of benefit but in the many ways that it can influence our lives on a social and spiritual level (appreciation of music, sexual gratification, appetite enhancement, anxiety relief, etc, etc).  

If it's so great, why is/was it illegal?

Original legislation in America had less to do with the negative effects of marijuana than it did with racism and immigration.  America originally singled out cannabis as a problem only when, in the early 1900s, some southern US states were experiencing a new wave of undesirable Mexican immigration. (Sound familiar?)  

Politicians and media of the day pointed to the dangers posed by these new immigrants and chose one of the defining characteristics that made them especially bad.  You guessed it... marijuana consumption.  Of course, no one took the time to examine the medicines in every day use, a great many of which contained a cannabis ingredient.  That wasn't the point.  The dark-skinned Latinos just weren't the stuff that we wanted to build 'our' America with.  Prohibiting its use quickly resulted in the search, seizure and deportation of untold thousands.

The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned its use and sale.  The legislation was prompted by horribly skewed and biased hearings which, among other things, claimed marijuana use caused men of color to become violent and solicit sex from white women.  Of course, the MTA was passed promptly but was found to be unconstitutional in years to come.

Never one to be undone by constitutional concerns, Richard Nixon filled the gap by creating the Controlled Substances Act in 1970 and insisted that marijuana be temporarily categorized as both dangerous and addictive, ranking it with heroin and other highly addictive drugs. This was to be followed by a permanent status for the drug as soon as Nixon's suspicions could be confirmed by a government appointed investigative body.  Raymond Shafer, former governor of Pennsylvannia, was to head what became "The Shafer Commission".

The Shafer Commission was comprised of numerous doctors, psychiatrists, politicians and lawyers.  After almost 2 years of investigative research and debate, the commission presented its report to Congress entitled "Marihuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding".  It found that marijuana users, rather than being dangerous, actually became more timid, drowsy and passive while under the drug's influence. It concluded that cannabis did not cause a widespread danger to society, recommending social measures other than criminalization to discourage its use. Not only did the commission reject classifying marijuana as a dangerous Schedule 1 drug, it even questioned its designation as an illicit substance.

This was hardly the news Nixon had been waiting for and with just months remaining in his presidency, he outright rejected the commission's findings and permanently installed marijuana on the list of Schedule 1 drugs.

The Nixon Legacy

Here's an interesting headline from a 2016 article in the Washington Post:
“Police arrest more people for marijuana use than for all violent crimes — combined”

The ACLU and Human Rights Watch report shows that arrests for drug possession continue to make up a significant chunk of modern-day police work.

"Around the country, police make more arrests for drug possession than for any other crime," the report finds, citing FBI data. "More than one of every nine arrests by state law enforcement is for drug possession, amounting to more than 1.25 million arrests each year."  Many of those convictions end in some jail time for simple possession but 'habitual offenders' (2 prior convictions) can end up with sentences of 10 to 20 years.... or more! There are currently 54 inmates serving life sentences for marijuana in the federal system (counting only those added to the roles since 1996 - probably a few dozen more from previous years).  However, pot lifers in state prisons are not included in this count.  A few states — particularly Oklahoma and Louisiana — sentence significant numbers of non-violent marijuana offenders to life without parole.  The chart below clearly demonstrates that our fascination with locking people up seems to have taken off after Nixon introduced the Controlled Substances Act.

So what's it all cost?

It is very difficult to find current figures for the actual annual cost of keeping a human being behind bars in America today.  The cost depends on whether the inmate is housed in a federal, state or city lock-up and whether he's in a privately owned 'for profit' prison or in one operated by the state.  It also varies from state to state and city to city.  California for example, costs a little over $70,000 per prisoner annually but New York City jail costs are considerably higher, punching out at an impressive $167,731 to feed, house and guard each inmate, according to a study from the Independent Budget Office.  There were over 12,000 inmates spending time in NYC jails in 2013!

For the sake of argument, let's call the average cost of maintaining a prisoner in America in 2018 at something in the vicinity of $60,000 annually. Now multiply that by the total number of men and women that will be peering through iron bars tonight and you'll need to toke up just to handle the numbers.  Back in 2009, the number was 2.23 million souls.  (That number declined slightly after 2009 but seems to be catching an updraft at the moment.)  My calculator reveals costs in 2009 of $133,800,000,000.  Probably up a bit since then.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE ! There's the initial brick and mortar costs in building prisons and jails;  judicial costs to convict the accused in the first place and of course, policing costs to arrest them and provide evidence to prosecutors.  And please, don’t forget the families of those languishing away in our prisons; families were an extra wage earner could make the difference between being on welfare or buying a new car or educating children.  
So let’s put it all together with some ball-park estimates….  Costs for arrest and conviction $150,000; additional facilities to house the prisoner - $50,000 to $150,000 (depending on jurisdiction); $60,000 annually for security and maintenance of inmates. (http://druglibrary.net/schaffer/Library/basicfax.htm)
Taking into account all the costs to society, it’s not long before the number 'trillion' appears in the calculation.

       
                              

http://www.stonerdays.com/stoners-marijuana-news/

OK, not everyone in jail is there on a marijuana conviction

But a lot are.   According to a NORML report from 2008, half of all drug convictions that year were marijuana related and a staggering 44% were for simple possession.  Thanks to the Nixon administration placing marijuana in the Schedule 1 category of drugs, something significant started to take shape in the early 70s and just continued to grow year after year for the next 40 years.

            So, let’s do some simple arithmetic.  As mentioned earlier, 2.23 million inmates in prisons and jails in 2009 across America, at least half of them on drug convictions.  Of those drug convictions, half were for marijuana related offences.  By my count, that works out to about ¼ of all inmates behind bars being there because of marijuana and most of those for simple possession!  The calculation is undoubtedly flawed but whatever the real number, it’s enormous and it’s all because a president who was about to be impeached, refused to accept the advice of his own Whitehouse commissioned panel.
So what does that mean in dollars and cents to your tax bill?  Well, based on the above numbers and rounded for simplicity, take 1+ Trillions in dollars in total costs, quarter it and you end up with a cool $250 billion…annually.  Your tax money at work, folks!

OK.  So what happens after we legalize it?

Well, for one thing, we’ll have a lot of people clogging the judicial system as they try to get their asses out of jail.  The burden of the cost for doing that will be substantial but it will be partially offset by fewer arrests and convictions entering the system.  Just how much isn’t clear but based on recent numbers, we may already be seeing the affect of legalization in Colorado, Washington and growing number of other states.  Check out this chart from 2015.


The times, they are a’changin’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions – whether he realizes it or not – will find he is on the wrong side of history and lacks the ability to prohibit states from legalizing marijuana.  
While Sessions proposes another front in the war on weed, the DPA report indicates those states that have legalized recreational marijuana are more effective at protecting the public safety and the health of their citizens.  

This chart from marijuana.com details 5 states that are liberating both people and money.
 
      
“As states legalize recreational marijuana, they are filling their coffers with millions of dollars that would otherwise be headed to the black market. Allocated for the good of society, this new tax revenue is providing critical funding for expanding educational opportunities and creating drug diversion programs.

  • From 2015 to 2017, Colorado’s recreational marijuana tax revenue has generated $230 million for the Colorado Department of Education.
  • Since legalization began in Oregon, the state has distributed $34 million to its school fund.
  • Nevada’s state school fund is projected to harvest approximately $56 million over the next two years based on their 15 percent wholesale marijuana tax.
  • Washington state allocates 25 percent of their collected marijuana tax revenue to substance abuse treatment and 55 percent to fund basic health plans.
  • Alaska is projected to collect approximately $12 million annually from the recreational marijuana program, funds which will help finance community centers and drug treatment programs.
  • California and Massachusetts will invest a share of their marijuana tax revenue in the communities most adversely impacted by drug arrests and incarcerations historically, particularly low-income communities of color, to help repair the harms of discriminatory law enforcement.”

        https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/01/marijuana-legalization-is-a-win-win-for-all-states/

And that’s just the beginning!  

Projections for annualized tax revenues when all 50 states come on board are impressive but pale when compared to the staggering costs America has endured since the implementation of the Controlled Substances Act and the inclusion of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.

The Nixon and Reagan administrations turned a blind eye and chose to ignore extensive scientific and social evidence that marijuana should never have been included in the Schedule 1 list of drugs.  Furthermore, those administrations in particular, adamantly refused to consider the extensive research and evidence that overwhelmingly recognized the herb for its medicinal and spiritual properties, not only now but throughout its long history.  
That monumental blunder and gross lack of judgement cost the American taxpayer untold trillions of dollars and destroyed the lives of millions of Americans.

26 Comments

AGXIIK's picture

Well said 000Buck

General Smedley Butler's speech   "War is a racket"  came from one of the most highly decorated military men of the last century.  War is a racket with a few people at the top orchestrating the violent actions of millions of men and women to line the pockets of the war makers who, more often that not, started the war for their own personal gain.

The War on Drugs is also a racket.  The victims sit in jails. The legal industrial complex makes trillions in profits and in the end the average American is collateral damage in this war.  In the war on drugs the drugs won and we're the worse from it.  Human costs in the war are almost incalculable.

Big Pharma, the biggest victor in this war, simply sits at the top, rolling its pills and elixers down the hill into the bodies of hundreds of millions of Americans, the most doped up people on the planet. We consume 70% plus of all drugs and prescriptions in the world

If you don't recognize zones of war you're likely to become a casualty of the battle.  

All wars are bankers wars.

The bankers make trillions in profits from the war on drugs

Paganini's picture

Thank you, OOOBuck.

Very instructive.

Welder99's picture

Great Essay and History Lesson

The Shafer Commission story, where government investigates an issue, does not like the resulting evidence,and puts a lid on it , also happened with Larry Kotlikoff's research on Fiscal Gap Accounting. The result of that study would expose the insolvency resulting from unfunded promises.
The influence of private for profit prisons could be another chapter in this malodorous tale. The Real Vision series on the business and standards the Canadians are applying to Marijuana products was interesting ; like a Starbucks for weed.

OOOBuck's picture

Really good point Welder

I thought long and hard about including a few paragraphs on 'for-profit' prisons but that wouldn't have scratched the surface on that vile process.   It's worth writing about and discussing here in TFMR. 

The real criminals are on the wrong side of the bars.

marchas45's picture

4th

For The Buck. Keep Stacking

As a former user (in the 60's) I have no problem with it's use, only the dumb asses like myself causing an accident (which I did) but other than that, mellow out to your hearts content. Peace Baby laugh

4 oz's picture

~

Nice post; Here's to hoping it gets picked up by Rory and SD & other places and lots of eyes get to see it!

marchas45's picture

The Picure At The Top

Looks Like This When The Fog Clears. laugh

OOOBuck's picture

Hey Marchas - I Begged you

Not to share my daughter's picture with anyone!

OOOBuck's picture

Serving time for cannabis is the crime

It was difficult finding accurate numbers for people who have or are serving time for possession/distribution of cannabis.  Multiple offenders caught the most attention (and obviously time) but different reporting sources provided vastly different numbers.  

I just ran across this article from High Times dated Oct/2017 and found it worthy of sharing in the hope of adding further clarity.

"Of the offenders in federal prison in 2012, the primary drug type of offense was crack cocaine for 28.4 percent of them, powder cocaine for 25.8 percent, methamphetamine for 23.7 percent and marijuana for 12.4 percent. Heroin accounted for 6.2 percent of federal drug offenders in prison, and 3.5 percent were in prison for other drugs, such as pharmaceuticals or MDMA.  So, in sheer numbers, there were 11,533 federal cannabis prisoners in 2012.

Almost all (93.6 percent) of the federal marijuana offenders were male.
In terms of race, 59 percent were Hispanic, 24 percent were white and 13.9 percent were Black. In terms of age, 1.9 percent were 18 to 19 years old, 25.7 percent were in their twenties, 35.9 percent were in their thirties and 40.6 percent were 40 or older. Also, 34.7 percent of federal cannabis prisoners were not U.S. citizens."

https://hightimes.com/culture/federal-cannabis-prisoners/

chrtoo's picture

Thanks!

Thanks triple-aught, I shall share this widely.

CHR.

Doople's picture

Jeff Sessions

I do not think our Attorney General is the problem here. I think with his recent repudiation of the "Cole Memo" he is trying to get congress to actually do their job. The Cole Memo from 2013 during the Obama Administration was an attempt to legislate without actually changing the laws on the books. This whole situation will always be ambiguous until the federal law is changed.

As a side note, with the change in the California laws this year regarding growing and the quasi legal status which has prevailed over the past couple of years, Econ 101 is playing out. The quantity of MJ has exploded and the price has plummeted. While fly fishing for steelhead is my passion, I discovered in Weaverville, CA which is in the heart of the Emerald Triangle in Trinity County, that the price of a pound of "primo bud" cleaned is $500. 10 years ago it was $5,000. 

In California the price is dropping close to the cost of production. I think this is a good thing. Steelhead and Salmon runs have been declining for years and one of the big problems is outlaw growers of MJ. When Salmon and Steelhead hatch in the winter they are tiny and called smolts and need to summer over in cool water to get big enough to go to the ocean. When you hike up the spawning tributaries on rivers near me such as the Gualala, Garcia, Eel you find lots of PVC pipe pumping the cold water out and many of the tributaries going dry in August/September. I have hiked some of these areas as I volunteer for a non-profit promoting clean water and the return of wild steelhead and salmon. I have been met by rough looking dudes packing pistols and telling me "you do not want to be here".

I am OK with California going legal grows and getting the backwoods illegal growers booted and my guess is that supply and demand is going to do just that over the next few years.

chrtoo's picture

No sense letting any facts get in the way.

Especially Government Facts.

I sent 000Buck's article to friends one of whom replied with some salient thoughts and an article to further the discourse ...

" Thanks, this was a good review.  Only part that still kinda gets me is the rhetoric behind the 'stoned' driving problem.   Yes, there will probably be a few, but when the NHTSA did their study, they found little to no additional risk from cannabis, but a significant risk from alcohol.  I'll send you the paper....see "summary and discussion" pg. 8.   Maybe you could drop a bit of that in Turd's pasture!
d. "

https://www.nhtsa.gov/staticfiles/nti/pdf/812117-Drug_and_Alcohol_Crash_Risk.pdf

CHR.

OOOBuck's picture

chrtoo - facts in the way

Now that is an interesting area of research.

Many people are cooling their heels in prison at this very moment because they were driving, got stopped by a cop and the cop smelled pot as he leaned toward the window.  Then it's all about search, seizure and a highway sobriety test (that has proven to be grossly inadequate if not inaccurate), then off to jail you go.

I haven't read the entire NHTSA report but thank you for helping out by directing me to the summary and discussion.  You'll notice that they're rather wishy-washy on impairment and seem to focus more on incidence of collision by people with THC in their bloodstream, rather than reduced ability to operate a vehicle.

After reading it, I wanted more information on both alcohol and cannabis and how they compared.  I knew that alcohol was a depressant and as such, impairs ability to do many tasks but I really wasn't sure if marijuana ranked as a depressant.  If it is, then it follows that it would impair driving.

Here are two analyses on the subject, one describing the psychoactive nature of alcohol, the other of cannabis.

Alcohol is a depressant which is a class of drugs that inhibit the function of the central nervous system (CNS). In doing so both physical and psychological activity are impaired. CNS depressants like alcohol reduce brain activity and awareness by blocking messages from nerve receptors to the brain; this changes a person’s judgments, perceptions, movements, emotions, and senses.
http://www.alcoholismtreatmentcalifornia.com/faq/why-is-alcohol-called-a-depressant/

Although marijuana is often classified as a mild psychedelic drug, the active ingredients within marijuana do have many depressant effects. Therefore, marijuana can be classified as a depressant.  Those who consume marijuana can experience muscle relaxation, tiredness, decreased alertness and sedation, all of which are similar to the effects of depressants.
http://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Is-Marijuana-a-Depressant.html

Notice the difficulty in attempting to define marijuana but no question about alcohol.  Alcohol - definitely a depressant.

OK, so what about those depressant characteristics of cannabis they're talking about?  When rats in a lab are fed the usual mega doses for research, they found the rats showed all the characteristics of being under the influence of depressant but when given lesser doses, little or no sign of it.  Just happy little otherwise normal rats.

It appears it has a great deal to do with just how much of the stuff you've been sucking back before getting behind the wheel that can determine whether you're a road hazard or just a happy little driver.  It also appears that one person can experience the effects of cannabis very differently from another.

Getting back to that cop pulling somebody over and smelling pot.... someone suggested (I don't recall where), that anyone suspected of driving under the influence shouldn't be arrested if they fail the existing sobriety test (as they are now).  Rather, they should be given the option of providing a blood sample, afterwhich they can be escorted home.  If the test comes back positive for high levels of THC, the officers return to your door the following day with bracelets. 

Until such time as better methods are arrived at to determine the degree of impairment, I suppose that would be as good as anything.

mike97's picture

Good article

Good article triple O. I am sending it around. I hope that  many prisoners whose sentences are based on marijuana offenses will be released in the near future.

OOOBuck's picture

Thanks Mike - California is making headway

but it's not an easy process for people currently serving time or for those attempting to expunge their record.

"The San Diego District Attorney’s office has identified nearly 4,700 cases from 2002 to present that are eligible for review and possible dismissal. Those who wish to request a review of their case can do so by filing a CR-400 petition form and submitting it to the San Diego County Superior Court. Past convictions for possession of marijuana; cultivation of marijuana; possession for sale, transportation, distribution or importation of marijuana; and personal use of marijuana are eligible for review. Already, 680 felony convictions have been reduced to misdemeanors."

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/02/san-francisco-offers-thousands-of-marijuana-convicts-a-clean-slate/

Fred Hayek's picture

000 we've helped get a "dispensary" permitted in MA

The engineering and survey company I work for helped get a cannabis dispensary permitted in Sturbridge, Massachusetts (about half way east-west wise through the state and on the Connecticut border).  I believe that the people behind the dispensary had to agree to a deal that it would not sell for just recreational use for at least 10 years after opening.

Right now every Town in Massachusetts is in the process of passing zoning laws to deal with the possibility of a dispensary in their town.  ( I could be wrong but I think something like 15-20 dispensaries are opening soon.)  Anyway, in Massachusetts it works the same way as zoning for a titty bar.  If your Town does not have SOME location in Town where a dispensary (or a titty bar) is allowed then, legally, it's allowed ANYwhere in that town. 

So, Towns do a couple different things.  One tack is that they find a piece of land at the edge of their Town where the traffic impacts will really be born by the abutting town and where the image of that use will stick more on the abutting town.  Another is that they zone it so tightly that only one or two parcels could be used and those turn out to have no sewer service and terrible soils that don't allow a septic system or those chosen parcels  of land are covered in wetlands or have endangered species on them.

Anyway, the whole thing, while not as far along as in Colorado, is kind of a fait accompli here in Massachusetts.

OOOBuck's picture

Fred - I don't understand....

*If your Town does not have SOME location in Town where a dispensary (or a titty bar) is allowed then, legally, it's allowed ANYwhere in that town

*those chosen parcels  of land are covered in wetlands or have endangered species on them

It sounds like.... if the town in question, doesn't have a dispensary, then the dispensary can build and operate anywhere in the town but somehow, that's not what happens.  Instead the dispensary gets zoned out to the boonies on land that is inappropriate for operating any business.

Or are you referring to outlets that want property after the 1st outlet has secured the primo location?

Katie Rose's picture

Marijuana slows down the growth of cancer

My husband passed of a very aggressive cancer because of exposure to Agent Orange while in Viet Nam. Whenever you hear "very aggressive cancer" and see the individual is a Baby Boomer, think "Agent Orange." He was a radio repair person and they stored Agent Orange where he worked.

I live in WA State where marijuana is legal for both medical and recreational use. I was the "designated grower" for my husband as we explored the alternatives to Chemo and Radiation Therapies. One alternative we found was spectacular was very high dosages of intravenous Vitamin C. We found a Yale trained, Stanford Medical School Grad who made it his responsibility to provide the most cutting edge, lab verified alternative protocols for individuals.  All payments were made at the time of treatment and we ran out of money as my hubbies' insurance would not cover this treatment.

He then was given very strong pain meds to counter the pain. It changed his personality. He went from gentle and kind to a raging maniac. That is when the marijuana really kicked in. Besides blowing up cancer cells (apoptosis)  it also created an internal climate within him that calmed the rage. I got my hubby back.

I am now a master marijuana grower. I love the plant. It is not true that plants high in CBD are the medical plants and THC has no use other than getting people "high." It is the THC that blows up the cancer cells. We tried Rick Simpson Oil but found it too disorienting. Rick Simpson Oil has helped (cured) many with cancer. It was too strong for both of us. (Yes, I tried it too.)

My husband designed and built me a special greenhouse to grow the marijuana plants in. This way they were not subject to any chem-trail sprays. We used a 55% white covering that did not require a shade cloth. I bought it from: https://www.agriculturesolutions.com/greenhouse-supplies

It also shielded what I was growing from prying eyes. And, yes, I posted my authorization to grow in the greenhouse as required by WA State law.

There also are candies available at our local recreational store. Nasty Jack Balls are my favorite. I learned about them when hubby wanted pot while in the hospital. It was forbidden, so the candies arrived with me every day.

I believe marijuana has gotten a very bad rap. When Jeff Sessions said he was going to go after folks who used marijuana, I wanted to punch him out. What an idiot!! Enough said......

abundance's picture

a 15min review of gowdy..good food for thought

chrtoo's picture

Testing for impairment.

I have seen more than a few ads for small start-up companies which are doing the research on how to determine if a driver is "under the influence" through a road-side test, like currently exist for alcohol. I worry that these companies will simply tow the government line that any amount of THC/CBD in the blood stream is a sign of impairment and would result in charges and an insurance nightmare (just like for alcohol).

THC/CBD are short term influences but their presence will show up in the blood stream for an awful long time. Alcohol's influence last much longer (remember having way too much to drink, catching 4 or 6 hours of sleep and then waking up still too drunk to drive) and the drug dissipates out of the blood in about 12 hours. The police, here, like to run road-side checks on certain "morning after" days after some expected over-celebration events (University Homecoming day after, etc). I recall that they have had better than expected luck with that program.

I'm sure that this will all have to come down to court challenges but given folks are no longer high, a couple of hours after a joint, being picked off as impaired two days later because traces can be found in your blood stream will ruin a lot of lives, unnecessarily. How do we work with the law enforcement to insure that THC/CBD impairment is fairly determined?

Thanks for your reply, triple-aught, I shall insure that my friend sees your additional thoughts.

CHR.

OOOBuck's picture

I totally agree Chrtoo

As mentioned earlier, low readings (let alone trace amounts) of THC/CBD in the blood stream are not a sufficient means of determining impairment.   Law enforcement and prosecutors are familiar and comfortable with determining factors involving alcohol impairment.   Science has proven that blood levels in excess of  pre-determined levels will yield pre-determined degrees of intoxication.  Not so cannabis.

IMO, modest (ie normal) use of cannabis does not function as a depressant in the same way that alcohol does and therefore, reaction times and ability to operate a vehicle aren't affected in the same way.  People driving under the influence of cannabis will however, exhibit distracted driving and may not realize how fast they're going or whether they just went through a red light.  Like all distracted driving infractions, it is the police that identify such behavior and take measures to remove those drivers from the road.  Given that existing roadside testing (for marijuana) has been found essentially useless, the only means of determining impairment is a blood test and that blood test must be sufficient to clearly indicate that the blood sample contains excessive levels of THC/CBD for the purpose of performing precision oriented tasks (like driving, flying a plane, operating construction equipment, etc.).  BUT trace levels or even modest levels indicate absolutely nothing.

chrtoo's picture

@000Buck .. a little more.

Here is another reply from my Friend, this is Canada-centric. Heaven only knows how this will play out, State-by-State:

"The govt has set two limits.....over 2 ng/ml.  and over 5 ng/ml.    The problem is there is very little research as to whether anyone is actually impaired at those levels. Secondly, we know how BAC increases with consumption and is affected by body weight and sex, so we have charts to allow a person to calculate how many drinks it takes to get to a certain BAC (more or less).  With cannabis, with a plethora of different strains offering different amounts of THC and/or CBD, different methods of ingestion (smoking, vaping, eating), how is one to determine how much cannabis puts one at the impaired level?   To add another twist, CBD  tends to counteract THC in the body. So if a person uses a strain of 18% THC, no CBD,  their impairment level should be greater than a person who used 18% THC, 10% CBD.   Both would show a high level of THC, but because the CBD counteracts the THC, that person would not be as impaired.

In the reply, 000Buck comments that the study seems to focus on incidence of collision rather than ability to operate. I would submit the former is a good indicator of the latter.

d."

As small vindication to my prediction above, my friend also included this interesting confirmation:

"The federal government has released a draft of its planned drug concentration levels but admit the new rules provide no guidance on how much marijuana it would take to push a driver over the legal limit."

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/drugged-driving-limits-thc-1.4354336

CHR.

OOOBuck's picture

Chrtoo - So easy to agree with you

And your friend's comment indicating "the former is a good indicator of the latter" is of course, bang on.  This description in the NHTSA document is typical of many absurdities.   It's full of vagueries and conundrums.

I missed that article from the CBC and I thank  you for sharing it with us.  It's a must read and portends of much debate on the subject in future.

If a blood test delivers a finding of excessive blood/THC levels but the person has not committed any driving infraction and can perform all performance task testing with ease, why is he being prosecuted.  And if someone has minimal levels of blood/THC but went through a red light and later couldn't successfully complete any performance rated tasks, why is he guilty of anything other than being a bad driver and having poor motor/hand/eye coordination skills.

It is indeed, a conundrum and will be occupying the courts for some time to come.

chrtoo's picture

Pre-crime.

I liked this statement in the CBC article describing the lowest level of 'offense' being considered:

" a summary offence for people with THC in their system but not enough for them to be impaired."

I think this means that anyone who uses cannabis (those with medical licenses, for example) are being discouraged from ever driving again considering the frequency of use to mitigate pain and the persistence of a detectable drug signature in the blood. So much for recreational legalization (in Canada) if the powers that be don't want it so much that they are willing to create offenses for those users not meeting the impaired threshold, when tested for impairment.

Thanks for the compliments shared. Glad the CBC article was provided for you and this thread.

CHR.

Wizdum's picture

PAPER

William Randolph Hearst... that twat lobbied for the Tax Act. He bought an ass-ton of trees to make paper, and wanted to stop the hemp paper and increase his wealth. 

Now, almost 100 years later.. what will that do for the paper industry?

Timber industry?

Who will make hemp paper?

-wiz

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