As Carl mentioned below, the New Approach Washington campaign turned in its signatures this week for Initiative 502. This initiative would legalize personal possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and regulate the distribution and sale of the drug to anyone over 21. It also introduces a per se DUI limit for “active” THC – in layman’s terms, the amount of “unprocessed” THC in your body.
Over at Slog, Dominic Holden continues to lash out at the folks in the medical marijuana community who oppose it – primarily due to the DUI provisions. I’ve been trying to stay out of this fight for my own sanity, but Holden’s anger is so misdirected (and misinformed), I have to speak up.
The heart of the issue is rather simple. For years, medical marijuana patients in this state have fought to keep from getting arrested for using a medicine that they and their doctors have found is very effective for them. Our medical marijuana law does not fully protect medical marijuana patients from arrest, it only provides for a defense in court. Over the years – despite the fact that the rules the police must follow haven’t changed (hint, hint) – the amount of arrests for medical marijuana have been going down as more and more law enforcement folks realize that patients will simply win in court.
With I-502, however, medical marijuana patients would end up with a new threat. Because they often use very high quantities of marijuana compared to recreational users, the effects of the drug from an impairment standpoint are minimal (people build up a tolerance to the psychoactive effects), yet they always have an overabundance of “active” THC in their bodies to trigger that DUI charge. As a result, medical marijuana patients and their advocates are organizing to fight I-502. Holden continues to blast these folks for their opposition, but their position is entirely rational. This initiative clearly puts them at greater risk of having to deal with the criminal justice system than the status quo.
And this situation was entirely by design. When New Approach Washington started their campaign, they pointed to poll numbers showing that including the DUI provision would cause 62% of voters to be more likely to vote for it, but only 11% less likely. The folks behind New Approach Washington came to a conscious decision to throw medical marijuana patients under the bus in order to have a better chance of passing something. To be upset that medical marijuana patients are now trying to fight it is absurd. Of course they’re fighting it.
But even more obnoxious is how Holden is now trying to impugn the integrity of folks who are acting exactly the way you’d expect them to. He writes:
The folks trying to lock up pot smokers aren’t the prestigious public health professionals, professors, prosecutors, and defense attorneys who have banded together to submit what appears to be enough signatures to put the country’s most sweeping marijuana initiative on the Washington State ballot. No, the people holding a rally today in Olympia to oppose Initiative 502—which would legalize and regulate pot for all adults—are medical marijuana patients, attorneys who specialize in marijuana defense, and activists who want legalization with fewer regulatory controls. They complain that too many people would get busted for DUIs while driving with active (not inactive) THC in their system. Of course, maintaining the status quo isn’t a big deal for them if I-502 fails. A lot of them make money running pot dispensaries, and many lawyers make their living defending marijuana cases. The folks braying loudest against I-502 are also the same people (Douglas Hiatt, Jeffrey Steinborn, and Vivian McPeak) who ran previous initiative campaigns to legalize marijuana and failed to make the ballot. Maybe they’re feeling butthurt that someone else is doing a better job.
This is so absurd, I can’t believe he actually wrote this. Hiatt and Steinborn are the two main folks behind Sensible Washington, who’ve been trying to get their own legalization initiative on the ballot for the past two years (I did a lot of work with them earlier this year). That initiative was written to completely remove all state criminal penalties for marijuana. To say that those two are happy to maintain the status quo because they make a living defending marijuana cases is one of the craziest things ever written in The Stranger.
They’ve all done commendable work in the past, but now they are at the vanguard of a misguided campaign to lock up pot smokers. If they succeed in stopping I-502, perhaps there will be a handful more DUI arrests for pot under the imperfect initiative, because the science is admittedly unclear. But here’s one thing that is absolutely clear: Law enforcement in Washington will continue to arrest about 13,000 people for pot every year unless we pass I-502.
But that’s actually far from clear. Holden is leaving out a very important aspect of the argument that some I-502 foes have been making, in particular Jeffrey Steinborn. As he wrote on Slog last month, Steinborn believes that I-502 will do nothing to stop people from being arrested:
Initiative 502 is a law enforcement sting in plain sight. Read it before you support it. Although the mandatory DUI conviction at 5ng of active THC per milliliter of blood is troubling and possibly unconstitutional, the inevitable federal preemption of this initiative, along with its provisions requiring mandatory self-incrimination make it a dangerous illusion.
Steinborn isn’t arguing that some smaller number of DUI’s is worse than the number of people who get arrested every year. What he’s arguing is that – if I-502 passes – the federal government is going to step in, shut down all the parts of the initiative that establish a legal, regulated market and potentially leave us with both 13,000 arrests per year and bogus DUIs.
I have no idea if Steinborn is right. I’ve listened to a number of legal experts and there’s a wide range of opinions on what happens once a state fully legalizes marijuana and allows for it to be sold openly to adults. My own hunch is that private entities like drug testing firms and possibly the pharmaceutical industry may compel the Obama Administration to go after any state that tries. And the history of the Obama Administration has been one of corporate influence outweighing what the liberal base wants.
Yet Holden doesn’t explore whether or not Steinborn’s right, he just falsely claims he’s making a foolish tradeoff. This is lazy, hack journalism at its worst. But beyond that, he’s completely missing the point about the impact of DUIs. The problem isn’t just that the number of arrests will go up significantly (although I think that might happen too). The problem is that the people who get arrested and charged with DUI for marijuana will now find it far more difficult to prove their innocence in court. And as I alluded to earlier (hint, hint), law enforcement and prosecutors most certainly change the way they do things based upon whether or not they know they can get convictions.
At the beginning of their campaign, New Approach Washington looked at their polling on the DUI question and felt that this was the right approach. With 62% of voters saying a DUI provision would make them more likely to vote for legalization and 11% of voters saying the opposite, only 20% of that 62% would need to actually flip their vote to make the other 11% irrelevant. If that’s the case, and the supporters of I-502 think that’s realistic, they shouldn’t give a crap what medical marijuana patients are doing and saying. They’ll be outweighed by all those soccer moms who finally have an initiative that they can vote for.
It’s that point that makes me wonder why Holden is losing his shit. If he thinks that New Approach Washington miscalculated – and that the 11% can really swing this – he should be blasting the I-502 campaign for making that poor calculation. The opposition from medical marijuana patients and their longtime advocates was easily predictable and fully expected. What hasn’t been expected is the piss-poor level of journalism coming from a publication that has long been superb at pointing out the drug war hackery of others.
Politically Incorrect spews:
Just legalize it. This craziness has gone on for far too long.
DUI for any drug (alcohol included) should be based on whether someone is actually impaired, not on some arbitrary number. There are plenty of hard core drunks who can drive better at .08 than my aunt can totally sober. I’m sure the same can be said for hard core pot heads.
Isn’t this all just tilting at windmills? If I-502 passes, pot will still be illegal at the federal level and federal laws still trump state ones.
Isn’t I-502 better than the status quo?
Sensible Washington’s efforts were pathetic. Hell, I had to meet the Canabus at a specific time in Chehalis just to sign the damn thing..no wonder it didn’t make the ballot.
The I-502 people though had signature gatherers standing outside WalMart here..they have the money and backing to get this done.
Frankly, some of these MMJ folks sound envious and just plain selfish. If they can’t have everything their own way, then apparently, in their minds, nobody should..
I’m not sure that it is. For example if we in Washington decide we’re going to ignore federal law on marijuana, could the folks in Mississippi decide they’re going to follow our lead on ignoring federal law, but they’re going to ignore voting rights laws or abortion laws instead?
In the end marijuana will still be illegal, we’ll still be accountable to federal laws, there will still be federal raids, we could still be pressured by losing federal funding for stuff because our laws are out of compliance with federal laws.
I’m all for legalizing marijuana, but I do have some concerns about states picking and choosing which federal laws they’re going to adhere to.
Troy Barber spews:
Great piece Lee – Thanks!
Tim Crowley spews:
502 is a step in the right direction. Being able to legally purchase cannabis and use it in the privacy of my home is what many of us have worked decades to achieve. A law to permit us to drive stoned will not pass. 502 will. Police still need to have a reason to pull you over and a reason to ask you to test for cannabis. You still have the right to a jury of your peers. The concept fruit of the poisened tree is still in place. The fear of police rounding up medical users for driving is not supported with logic. Emotion has taken over the debate. In the meantime, today the police can kick my door in, chain me and lock me in a cage for smoking cannabis I the privacy of my home. 502 is a step in the right direction
I Got Nuthin' spews:
I’m 100% with Dom.
The pro-pot, anti I-502 crowd is out of its mind if it thinks it’ll ever get a better change to change the playing field than this initiative. Sensible Washington’s ineptitude proves that out. If I-502 fails, it’ll be a minimum of a decade before there’s another opportunity to reform our ridiculous laws.
I saw a comment either here or on Slog that I thought captured the issue perfectly. I’m going to butcher it here paraphrasing, but essentially, the road to progress is block by those demanding perfection.
One more thing. I’m been impaired by alcohol, pot, prescription drugs, etc. So much so, that it would be illegal to be behind the wheel. I’m thankful there are laws on the books to protect us. Medicine, recreational use or whatever.
Evergreen Libertarian spews:
So does anyone know how many people are arrested for driving while impaired because of cannabis alone and not combined with another substance?
Kari Boiter spews:
This isn’t just about I-502’s direct targeting of medical marijuana patients and naive kids. It’s not even about I-502 supporters being willing to sacrifice innocent people as collateral damage for political gain. I-502 threatens the very foundation of our criminal justice system. Not only does the per se provision allow people to be presumed guilty (instead of innocent until proven guilty) but it goes so far as to take away our rights to rebuttable presumption. Without rebuttable presumption, every person who becomes the victim of an overzealous cop will be legally unable to mount a defense in court. This should be VERY troubling to anyone who values freedom.
@Upton, What are you talking about?
“I had to meet the Cannabus at a specific time in order to sign it”
How about emailing the PDF to a print shop, having them print it out, sign it, and mail it in? We’re all volunteer, you’re criticizing an all volunteer entity, it doesn’t make any sense.
mookie blaylock spews:
Shorter lee: people should be free get stoned and drive.
John Toker spews:
A few facts:
1. It’s already illegal to drive stoned in Washington State.
2. There is no clear correlation between impairment and active metabolites like there is with alcohol.
3. It will be illegal for heavy users to get behind the wheel, *even when they haven’t toked in days*.
4. The per se statue means you will lose your right to present a defense in court.
5. Anyone under 21 stopped by cops (i.e. minority youths) can be convicted on the smallest detectable amount.
6. Government cannot regulate illegal activity.
7. The federal government has every right to shut down the proposed regulatory scheme, while leaving the per se DUI on the books.
As Dom wrote it, “The Feds will almost certainly challenge I-502 if it passes. But that’s what we want: It’s time for the national showdown over legal pot.”
In short, if you’re willing to cede more civil rights and accept more serious penalties to gamble on a short-lived, symbolic referendum designed to wrong-foot the Feds, then this is the initiative for you.
If you believe in legalization, then you should consider a repeal-first initiative instead.
Roger Rabbit spews:
@1 Well actually I don’t think I-502 legalizes it because you’ve still got federal law to contend with. See, e.g., @14(7).
Roger Rabbit spews:
@13 Too bad there’s no way to legislate stupid trolls out of existence.
Roger Rabbit spews:
@9 “One more thing. I’m been impaired by alcohol, pot, prescription drugs, etc. So much so, that it would be illegal to be behind the wheel. I’m thankful there are laws on the books to protect us. Medicine, recreational use or whatever.”
Now here’s an interesting point worth repeating: It’s just as illegal to drive impaired by the alcohol in cough syrup or the narcotic in doctor-prescribed painkillers as it is to drive impaired by the alcohol in beer, wine, or liquor. If your driving ability is impaired by a legal medicine you’re using for a legitimate medical reason, you can be chartged and convicted of DUI the same as any drunk driver. Also, the presumptive impairment standard is not a minimum standard of impairment; you can be arrested and charged with DUI even on .01 of alcohol if the cop believes your driving is impaired.
Jeff Steinborn spews:
Just read the law, not what people say the law is. It’s not about real legalization. The law requires growers and vendors to provide exhibit A in a federal prosecution against them: they must register their intent to commerce in cannabis with the liquor board. The law also requires that the liquor board cooperate with federal law enforcement–the same federal law enforcement that’s been busting state law compliant dispensaries around the country. It’s not significantly different from the law that our Governor vetoed, the law that the local US Attorney said could be met with the full spectrum of federal prosecution. Nor is it significantly different from the law that a federal judge in Michigan recently called “delusional.”
If I-502 is not ignored by those who will not participate because they fear prosecution, they can get it cheaper and better through existing sources, and they don’t think an ounce is enough, then it will be trumped by the feds, or voided by the first lawsuit challenging its obvious 5th amendment transgressions. What will be left when all is said and done is no significant reduction in the harms caused by prohibition and a dui law the removes all defenses, even for the conspicuously unimpaired. Those of you who think it’s a step in the right direction haven’t read the law, or at least haven’t understood it.
I used to joke that the only virtue of I-502 was that it would provide full employment for lawyers. Now I see that it’s not a joke.
We all want to reform the marijuana laws. I-502 is not real reform. Evidently you can fool some of the people some of the time, and that’s good enough. Read it before you support it.
I shouldn’t have to go through all that BS to sign a lousy petition.
@19. Jeff Steinborn
So, in other words, it’s your way or the highway. I’ve been smoking pot since the 70’s..and I see nothing wrong with it being regulated and treated like alcohol and prescription drugs already are.
We need an initiative that will get our foot in the door..compromises need to be made in order to appeal to voters statewide. I-502 is looking to do just that. If we wait for the perfect law or initiative, true reform is never going to happen.
it looks like the feds like the legal state co-op, has anyone counted how much cash the feds have stolen from legal mmj patients an providers this last summer alone? It seems like the feds will have, like Mr. Steinborn says, exhibit A mapped out for them.
No, the state controlled system of permitted gardens means really high cost permits that will effectively block single person medical gardens, to be taxed at 25% every step of the way means the state will get its money before they share registered garden addresses with the feds.
Just like the feds did to Harborside in Oakland, they will take down the WA St taxed recreational Marijuana stores and steal their assets, raiding an raping the WA St licensed an taxed gardens will be the delight of many of WA St police officers as they assist the feds, sometimes out of the St cops jurisdiction – as MHP in Spokane well knows.
No, for me to vote to give a state the right to control Marijuana is like saying I haven’t learned anything from all the federal raids on legal St sanctioned mmj establishments , ,
I feel that medical gardens and recreational gardens should be regulated the same as vegetable an herb gardens,,, There can be no St sanctioned Marijuana gardens free from fear of feds doing home invasions an stealing everything before incarcerating the ‘legal’ gardens growers . when the feds quit is when a state can start.
sure, our state can keep the paid taxes and cooperative police departments will get federal kickbacks with legalized Marijuana here. why give the St the money?
I’m thinking that most voters are confused and tired of the 420wars and would vote yes on deregulation, ,,, the illiterates can say ‘its just a weed’,,, the humans will be free to cure cancer and so many other diseases ,,, and maybe the neighbors will quit complaining about the dandelions in the yard if pretty new 12 ft plants with the same laws as apply to dandelions…
no, lets don’t vote to let the St take licensing fees while selling the feds the addresses of the licensed, untill the state will defend us against the feds, with force.
o, how much does your insurance go up if you get a DUI? an insurance CEO donated 250,000?
David Aquarius spews:
Sometimes the desire for reform is so great that it clouds the need to make sure that we don’t pass something worse than we have now.
I-502 has some language in it that appeals to this desire, however, the bill itself does more damage than the status quo. Like Jeff said, the Feds can come in and negate every part of the bill they hate and leave the shit that we’re fighting against. Is this progress?
I think it’s the height of ignorance to ignore the bad parts of this bill in order to highlight the good. You can’t pass a law with the intent to ‘fix it later’. There is no ‘fixing’ it. Once the DUI limits are put in place, they will be cast in stone. Patients will not have more access to their medicine, they will have less. Law enforcement will be targeting patients because they can. Anyone who thinks this bill will restrict that is woefully naive. Probable cause is subjective, always has been and always will be. Minority kids will be victimized by this law, filling our court system and our jails. I guess that’s OK to some people, especially if you don’t happen to be a brown person under 21.
We don’t want the perfect bill but we do want an honest one. It’s ludicrous to write a bill that tries to appease people that won’t vote for it anyway. Mom and Pop Rural Voter will vote for a MMJ bill that addresses the medical benefits, reduction in crime and the money it makes for the state. The addition of the DUI standards was a solution in search of a problem.
I-502 is bad law. No matter how much frosting you put on this cowpie, it’ll never be birthday cake.
Bert Chadick spews:
If 502 would take the state, county and municipal police and ban their cooperation with the feds I could live with it. There just aren’t enough DEA and FBI narcs to bust every or many small grows or sales. Also the Federal Courts couldn’t handle the volume of cases if the feds did bring in enough enforcement agents to make a dent.
I don’t smoke Marijuana because it counteracts my anti-depressant, but I did back in the day and remember what a big waste of time, lives and money pot prohibition causes.
No Time for Fascists spews:
If we got rid of all them gubmint regulations, could drug companies go back to selling tape worms as a diet aid and put cocaine back in the soft drinks just so long as they didn’t legalize pot?
Now that Dom is exposed for a hypocrite, I’d like to take this time to point out another: Solomon Schecter, aka NotSpicoli, aka P-Nut Budder of Sound Medibles. He thinks it’s perfectly okay to bash patients with his hate and vitriol and turn around and sell them medibles. All these I-502 people are only in it for the money they can ream from people, they have made it clear they HATE patients and would stoop to any level to throw them under the bus. Do you want to buy your meds from someone like this? I sure don’t.
limo liberal for life spews:
the stoner crowd has never, ever cared about the medical weed patients. They simply used them, and the sympathy they garner, to push their “lets get stoned without getting busted by the man” agenda.
Fact #2 – The stoner crowd tried to convince everyone that legal weed would be a cash cow for the state. This is BS, and always has been. You think the stoners are going to purchase over-taxed/0ver-priced weed from state stores? HAHAHAHAHHAHH, HELL NO. Selling underground, tax free weed will be as big an underground market as the illegal weed is now.
its all been a pile of lies so a certain group of people can smoke their pathetic lives away without fear from The Man.
Alex Newhouse spews:
A different point of view . . . .
I-502 is about permitting simple possession for adults, opening doors for industrial hemp, and creating major disincentives for children to use marijuana. It’s about doing the best possible job though an initiative process to create a regulatory system. It’s about bringing people from all parts of the political spectrum together to legalize cannabis in a thoughtful and careful way during a time of popular unrest. It’s about working with reality instead of against it to get a legalization initiative on the ballot here in Washington State that, if passed, will spread ideas across the country. People will eventually grow to accept the fact that cannabis is not dangerous and is, in fact, extremely profitable. They just have to be eased into it without feeling attacked.
Many marijuana reform advocates who are opponents of I-502 (hereinafter referred to as opponents) find fault with I-502 because it seeks to treat marijuana like we treat alcohol. They are right that some people are not impaired at 5ng. Likewise, many alcoholics are self medicating right now that are not impaired at .08 or higher. What people must remember is that a per se rule is a safeguard that society has deemed necessary for drugs that impair and that are also legally available for recreational use. Measuring the amount of drug in one’s system is easier than determining a specific level of impairment. A per se rule takes a lot of guessing out of the picture. It is also important to remember that if a defendant tests below the per se level then that is powerful evidence that will oftentimes contradict what the state’s professional witnesses will say about impairment.
Cannabis is a product that hasn’t been legal in this country for decades due to misinformation, ignorance, special interest groups and faulty science. This is not the same scenario we had with alcohol prohibition, which only lasted approximately 14 years. Many people in Washington State, just like the rest of the country, will naturally be hesitant to go down the path towards legalization without some safeguards, and rightfully so. Now feelings vary across the state, but I speak from experience when I say that the more conservative counties in Washington will deliver a resounding “no” to any legalization initiative or proposal that doesn’t put strict rules in place where pieces of prohibition once existed. King County cannot change this country’s marijuana policy on its own. The 5ng per se rule for marijuana should bring enough of Eastern Washington on board to push a legalization initiative through for the same reasons the .08 per se rule exists for alcohol. It errs on the side of caution.
When confronted with this safeguard argument, opponents scream that 5ng isn’t grounded in science. My response to them is as follows: 1) whether you like it or not, science often times does little to sway public opinion; 2) what little science that does exists is new and evolving; and 3) hearts have to change before science can take over and perform miracles. This is the reality for stem cell research now. Cannabis is no different.
Whether a patient or opponent likes to admit it or not, society will not accept the idea that officers should not investigate a person for DUI if they look impaired. It shouldn’t have to. People have a right to approach this cautiously. The fact that some law enforcement officers may abuse their power is not a valid reason to place restraints on all of law enforcement to investigate behavior that society generally views as dangerous and criminal. It is a fact that we need law enforcement. Instead of limiting safeguards like opponents wish to do, perhaps what we really need is to hold law enforcement more accountable. In this day and age, video and voice recording equipment is inexpensive technology. If this technology were used on every traffic stop, I believe our state would save a lot of money because less time would be needed to investigate and litigate search and seizure issues. Holding law enforcement more accountable and limiting safeguards are two completely separate issues. We need to continue to treat them that way.
It is a matter of commonsense to investigate someone for DUI who appears impaired and is also behind the wheel of an automobile. If you look impaired, should the officer just let you go because he or she believes marijuana is involved? Absolutely not. Marijuana should be treated like alcohol and anything else that can slow reaction time and impair judgment.
Opponents also often point to other supposed flaws in I-502. They claim that it has a zero tolerance policy for those under 21. This is deceptive. Right now there is such a thing that is often times inappropriately called a “baby dui.” Children under 21years of age who have at least .02 but less than .08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath while driving and who are not impaired can be convicted of this crime. It is a misdemeanor. I-502 adds to the “baby dui” by prohibiting kids from driving if they have any active THC in their system. If they have over 5ng it can be charged as a regular DUI. A “baby dui” is most often resolved in a way that does not involve a conviction, especially if it is a first offense. And even if there is a conviction it does not count as a prior offense when determining mandatory minimums for regular DUI’s. This is an effective way to discourage kids from using marijuana or alcohol. I fully support it, even with the license suspensions that go along with it. The baby DUI is the tolerance that opponents say is lacking. I might add at this point that minors are also charged with a crime called Minor Exhibiting. Minor Exhibiting prohibits those under 21 to be in public or in a vehicle while exhibiting signs of having consumed liquor. There is no similar provision for marijuana under I-502.
Opponents claim medical marijuana patients will be precluded from driving under I-502. They essentially argue that patients and heavy recreational users with high tolerances will be forced into trial without a legal defense. This is false. Any defendant can challenge the reliability of a test being used against him, and there is no such thing as “instant guilt.” What’s more, patients are not being pulled over at alarming rates right now. This is significant because if the active THC in their blood is as high as it is claimed to be and they were being pulled over in droves, then they should be racking up convictions, especially in the conservative counties. But they are not. Since they are not, it bolsters the points proponents of I-502 have been making about probable cause. If a patient is not impaired or drawing unnecessary attention to himself, then he likely will not be taking any more of a risk driving under I-502 then they would under the current state of DUI law. It is also important to note that at least in my county, out of all DUI cases charged, it appears that only a small percentage are drug related. And of those drug related DUI’s, only a small percentage involves marijuana. Those marijuana DUI’s that do exist rarely involve test results with more than 5ng of active THC.
When it comes down to it, opponents often forget about the simple possession and drug paraphernalia charges that result in thousands of convictions in Washington State each year with mandatory minimum sentences and accompanying probation/DOC violations. At a minimum, under I-502 law-abiding adults will be able to possess and consume small amounts of marijuana under Washington law, but not drive with over 5ng of active THC in their system. This will be the case even if most of I-502 is preempted by federal law. This will be the rule until science AND public opinion changes it. I-502 gives adults a choice nobody had before. This choice concerns the use of a relatively benign product that has never killed anyone. If this isn’t a positive step forward, nothing is.
The Feds need the fight brought to them. At this point in our history they will have 2 choices after I-502 passes: 1) respect public opinion and state sovereignty; or 2) attempt to trample on democracy and further undermine the rule of law while a very angry electorate watches. Help New Approach Washington. We are hoping to trigger change on a national level. As long as federal law remains unchanged, you will not be seeing fields of cannabis.
I-502 will do nothing for “fields of cannabis” and is completely pre-emptible. We need to send a strong message to the feds if we ever want to see an end to prohibition.
I-502 discriminates against patients, wrongfully so, using unscientific information as scare tactics to try and pass muster with voters.
Throwing patients under the bus by removing their right to drive is unacceptable. That it is being done by none other than an attorney from the ACLU is abhorrent.
And just as proponents accuse lawyers against this initiative of being against cannabis, so can we assume that lawyers for the initiative are against patients.
Yes, we need to fight the feds, but not at the expense of those who stand to suffer the most: the sick, the disabled and the dying. Stop trying to pass laws on the backs of innocent patients!
Patients Against I-502 spews:
Interesting that it takes Alex Newhouse 10 paragraphs to explain away the valid concerns of opponents. Perhaps he was asleep during the vast majority of his education as an attorney (or maybe too impaired, no laughing matter) but there are some VERY important legal concepts that he is choosing to ignore:
A) Rebuttable presumption – the linchpin of I-502’s faulty DUI proposal. The lack of rebuttable presumption makes I-502’s per se provision unreasonably dangerous and it should be troubling to anyone who values justice and freedom. Without rebuttable presumption, every Washington driver loses the ability to defend themselves in court. It is the equivalent of being automatically ruled guilty from the moment your blood test exceeds 5 ng/ml (0 ng/ml for those under 21)
B) Zero Tolerance – I-502’s proposal for those under 21 years of age. By setting the DUI limit at 0 ng/ml (ZERO ng/ml), there will be absolutely no wiggle room (ZERO wiggle room) for things like secondhand smoke, false positives, medicating under a doctor’s supervision, etc. This is what we mean when we say zero tolerance. It is deceptive to lead the public to believe that there will be any sort of exceptions for those under 21 (like there are for alcohol with a .02 limit instead of a 0.00 limit to account for things like mouthwash). The fact is that I-502 does not allow for any common sense exceptions and it is downright dangerous! Little Susie should not face penalties for picking up her brother from a party where cannabis smoke is present. If I-502 becomes law, Susie will have to face that sad reality & the public will have to face the realities of impaired brother Joe on the road because Susie didn’t want to take that risk.
C) Probable Cause – Any lawyer worth a grain of salt will tell you that police exploit this legal loophole on a near daily basis. It is of little comfort to the countless number of people who have been jailed without probable cause. It is particularly disconcerting under I-502 because without rebuttable presumption, you don’t have the ability to mount a defense that requires probable cause for conviction. If you think police aren’t smart enough to figure this out, you must have been living under a rock while the DOJ investigated and ruled against the SPD.
Alex Newhouse spews:
Mimi, I have a ton of respect for you, but . . .
Explain why I-502 is “completely” preemptible. If it is completely preemptible, what are you worried about? At a minimum, I-502 will stop POM<40g charges, UDP charges, and the violations they trigger while individuals are on probation. A few people are screaming “total preemption,” but I have yet to see one detailed legal analysis that can be peer reviewed as to why from anyone. The same is true about the hemp issue. And all of this screaming about zero tolerance for children is so deceptive I wonder where the motivation comes from.
And, like I have explained, the inevitable patient doom opponents have been warning about is exaggerated.
Alex Newhouse spews:
@Patients Against I-502
You ignored a lot of the points I made and then quickly jumped to unjustified personal attacks. Fix this persistent problem and then maybe the public will take you more seriously.
Alex, show me where I-502 opens up fields of hemp. It does not address hemp, it ignores it. It takes away patients right to drive, wrongfully so, and tries to make legal that which is against federal law. But this has all been explained to you in the past.
As for personal attacks, there is none better than some who attack the very patients they wish to deprive of said rights. Talk about kicking someone while they are down.
We need REAL reform, and it’s coming. Let’s just hope it’s a whole lot easier and NAW does not make the ballot.
Patients Against I-502 spews:
Who’s personal attacks aren’t being taken seriously? Dominic Holden and the rest of the I-502 camp, that’s who. We’ve all heard about enough and patients are tired of being marginalized. No one should be surprised when we bite back.
Obviously our bites are beginning to hurt a bit. The attacks get more desperate.
And please have your minions refrain from the anonymous personal public attacks. Anyone who wants to argue for or against is welcome, but hiding behind a fake name to do so is not only underhanded and unethical, to do so to the sick and dying is again, downright abhorrent.
But if that is what you people at NAW have to stoop to, we have a serious fight on our hands. Rest assured, we will expose you at every turn.
We fight for what is right. With honor and heart.
Alex Newhouse spews:
I fight for what I honestly believe is right too, Mimi. You know that. My heart is very much in this. Even though you and those you associate with can no longer stand me, I will always consider you allies in the grand scheme of things.
I haven’t posted anonymously for some time and I’m happy to stand in friendly fire, but who is Patients Against I-502?
It’s a group of people. I have no idea who is posting right now, as I am not one of their admins. I do believe it’s somewhere on their website. http://www.patientsagainsti502.org/
And it’s a NAW minion who is attacking disabled patients, personally and publicly. It’s pretty ugly, but we know who he is now. He’s said some pretty nasty things against patients, and we know he vollies for you guys. Why would you let your people do that to innocent patients just because they don’t agree with you at NAW?
But looking at what 502 will do to patients, it really is no surprise, is it?
Patients Against I-502 spews:
Patients Against I-502 is a non-profit coalition of doctors, lawyers, respected activists and close to 400 patients. We are a grassroots organization developed to educate the masses about I-502’s unethical DUIC provisions. If you would like to learn more, including the names of six of our key representatives, please visit our website
Troy Barber spews:
@4 & 20 Upton – Sensible Washington is all-volunteer. We apologize if your region was under-represented. The CannaBus was booked with many scheduled stops and destinations. The fact that you had to meet the CannaBus at a scheduled time, should not be a surprise, they had many other obligations.
New Approach Washington has raised over $1M. Expenditures and contributions from December have not posted yet. As of the end of November NAW has spent over $564,000.00 on paid signature gatherers alone.
Contrast that spending to Sensible Washington’s; $43,351.00 in 2011, and $35,614.00, these are our numbers for the entire campaign. In 2011, we fell short by about 1/3 the number of needed signatures. We did better in 2010, and also spent more money.
The moral to the story? Money buys elections.
The only way to win with an all volunteer crew is to greatly expand the numbers of volunteers, in our case, at least triple what we had in 2011.
Still, we demonstrated, that we could do more on a shoe-string budget, than most other campaigns in our state’s history. Before you criticize the efforts of our hardworking volunteers, please consider what it means to be a volunteer in the first place.
Troy Barber spews:
@21 – correction – Peter Lewis (Progressive Insurance) has contributed $450,000.00 as of the End of November 2011, December reports have not posted yet.
Disallowing rebuttable presumption from the per se DUI will mean automatic guilt. Prosecutors will be able to guarantee increased conviction rates, as opposed to now. Under our current law, impairment must be proven, which is the way it should be.
Allowing the Per Se limits proposed under I-502 to become law, risks setting a precedent for other states to follow. I believe we have a responsibility, to write law that is based on science and fairness.
If other states follow such stringent DUI policy, and insurer that sells SR22 insurance stands to profit.
Alex Newhouse spews:
@ Patients Against I-502
I am very familiar with the organization PANAW, but I was wondering who YOU were. Why the anonymity?
Patients Against I-502 spews:
@Alex – If your definition of anonymity includes posting names and titles on the Internet for the world to see, as well as making contact information available to journalists, we are beginning to understand why you are one of only two attorneys in Washington who believe per se laws are fair and just.
Troy Barber spews:
@27 Alex: With all due respect:
“creating major disincentives for children to use marijuana”
~ by this, you are referring to the ZERO tolerance DUI provision under I-502. I would like to point out that existing criminal penalties do little to deter use among young adults, do you honestly believe they won’t ignore the DUI?
What Zero tolerance will do is guarantee conviction rates, that do not necessarily prove impairment. The result of a marijuana DUI conviction means potential loss of funding for further education, is this the legacy you want to leave for future generations?
The intent of ending prohibition is to end abuse of laws that incriminate peaceful, and otherwise innocent people. I-502 seeks to extend laws that will incriminate innocent people, and even worse, leave them without a defense by removing rebuttable presumption.
I-502 is is an extension of prohibition, which violates the principles I have fought to defend.
Troy Barber spews:
@27 Alex: “Whether a patient or opponent likes to admit it or not, society will not accept the idea that officers should not investigate a person for DUI if they look impaired.”
To be perfectly clear, none of us have suggested that impaired driving, under any influence, legal or non, should ever be acceptable.
The point of our opposition is to push for a rational, fair, and just policy; one that allows defense. Whether I-502 supporters like to admit or not, I-502 goes beyond what is necessary for public safety, by extending an over-reach of police powers and increased conviction rates.
“The intent of ending prohibition is to end abuse of laws that incriminate peaceful, and otherwise innocent people.”
Alex, can you see the hypocrisy of your statement? I-502 would incriminate peaceful and otherwise innocent people.
Please explain the difference.
Troy Barber spews:
@30 Alex: Many of us have pointed out that the tax and regulate structure is what is preemptible in I-502. The sections that stand to remain are the discriminatory, unwarranted, and unfair DUI provisions; and quite possibly, the removal of criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce.
This is what we fear, that the DUI will remain. Beyond that, if the legal ounce remains – then a new market will be created, that only the black market can fill.
How will law enforcement react to increased illegal marijuana sales?
Probably not very well. Luck for them, they will have a new statute to exercise their “probable cause” suspicions, and be able to guarantee a higher conviction rate (no pun intended).
“but I have yet to see one detailed legal analysis that can be peer reviewed as to why”
~ Did you not see Jeffrey’s Slog post?
Why You Should Oppose Marijuana Legalization Initiative 502
Many of us recognize that I-502 is nothing more than a political power play by a desperate woman. She has shown her disdain of cannabis patients by including the 5ng in the initiative, while fully aware of the implications when she did so.
Can you just imagine her true disdain for the recreational smoker? I can hardly wait until it comes out.
Tricia Rogers spews:
MIMI ~ talk about FAKE NAMES HOLY SH*T!!!! you are the fakest bitch out there keep your sh*t to yourself some of us are trying to end prohibition not sling crap!!!! Your are a definitely a good candidate for douche’ bag of the universe!!! Alex we will end prohibition watch and see , while all these aholes are slingin mud we will be chewin up the feds and spitting them out!
Troy Barber spews:
@36 Alex: For the record, I still value you, and every other person we currently find ourselves at odds with. We are in the middle of a heated debate, no one should be surprised when tempers flair, and some things are said unnecessarily.
In fact, I have made a concerted effort to keep my views on this issue to factual information and analysis. I have even gone as far to discuss this issue with Justin McMahon, in agreement to keep the debate civil, and avoid personal attacks.
This does not however discredit or invalidate any of the points made by Lee’s original blog post; or comments by Jeffrey Steinborn (19), David Aquarius (22), Patients Against I-502 (29, 33, etc), Mimi, or any of the others that have presented evidence of opposition.
We should all recognize, once this debate is over, we may need to work with each other again to achieve our final goals of ending prohibition, or work to put more rational policy in place. Caution should be exercised on all sides, that we do not attack and belittle others to the point that no trust or respect can be established once this is over.
I don’t “hate” you Alex, but I do think you, and all other 502 supporters are being led down a very dangerous path, one that could lead the entire movement to great peril.
Some of us are beyond the point of no return, which is unfortunate. I for one, have no regrets about fighting for fair and just laws. It is not the opposition that started this division, NAW writing discriminatory law is the source of our division.
Unfortunately, some people only know how to spew hate and vitriol, and are unable to debate intelligently. Thank you, Alex, for not doing so. You still have my respect too, and I hope our concerns are groundless. However, the logic is there, as is the proof.
Alex, I wish you’d written all this in our brief chat recently. There’s a lot to discuss here, so I’ll try to take it piece by piece:
I haven’t found this to be true. There are certainly some extreme folks out there who think there should be no laws restricting what anyone can do with a marijuana plant, but they’re definitely a fringe. From what I’ve seen, most folks would like to see some form of regulated market for it like alcohol, but also with the appropriate variations for a plant that also has a number of medicinal uses.
This is somewhat misleading. There’s certainly a sliding scale of impairment when it comes to alcohol, but there’s a big difference between a .08 BAC and 5ng/ml active THC. When someone has a .08 BAC, the alcohol in the blood is directly causing that person’s motor skills to deteriorate. But with active THC, that’s not the case. The same difference here is why one can die from alcohol poisoning, but not from a THC overdose. The body handles the two substances very differently.
The studies used by the NAW campaign to show why a 5ng/ml limit explicitly says it can’t prove the direct causation of the impairment and that there are great variations from individual to individual. It’s merely a correlation, even though it’s one that would hold true for most marijuana users. But not all, and that’s the point here.
This is true today, and it will still be true if I-502 passes. Why does this even matter?
And they’re correct.
All true, but if you’re a person who is going to be put at extra risk because of this anti-scientific policy, why wouldn’t you fight it? That’s the point of this post. It’s perfectly reasonable for medical marijuana patients to fight I-502. This initiative is potentially very dangerous for them. Their opposition makes total sense to me.
That’s missing the point. Everyone wants impaired drivers off the road. What medical marijuana patients are worried about (among other scenarios) is being pulled over with possession of more than an ounce of marijuana, showing their paperwork and having the officer decide that they look impaired (and you should know full well – as a defense attorney – that some cops will do this). And since many medical marijuana patients are always over 5ng/ml whether they’re impaired or not, they’ve got a DUI charge against them that they can’t beat.
In fact, this scenario happened to someone the morning before the CDC debated I-502 at a public meeting. That person has a fighting chance to win in court. But if a per se DUI limit exists, they won’t be able to any more.
I’ve spoken to several defense attorneys who dispute this. I’d love to hear from more, but my understanding is that if you test over the 5ng/ml limit, you have virtually no recourse – short of finding that an error was made by the people who conducted the test.
Again, from the attorneys I’ve spoken to, this is completely wrong. It doesn’t matter what part of the state you’re in, a good criminal defense attorney can have a ng/ml measurement thrown out as evidence today. You’re right that not many patients get pulled over today. And it’s because it’s hard to convict them, so it’s not worth the officers time in many cases to pursue the blood test. The concern (and I find it to be a valid one) is that the per se DUI provisions will encourage more officers to do so.
As I’ve said to you privately, I may still vote for this because – like you – I see a lot of value in setting up the challenge with the feds over prohibition. But the main point of this post is that medical marijuana patients in this state have a very legitimate reason to oppose it. It’s not worth Dominic (or you) getting worked up over it. That was how NAW set it up, and from what I can tell, you understand the political calculus behind it.
Alex Newhouse spews:
It’s late and some great points have been raised. I’d like to respond to them all. It will be a few days due to some pressing matters at work. Please check back. As you can probably tell, I had some free time today.
You made some good points I’d like to respond to as well.
my lengthy post may not have been as clear as I intended it to be. Basically what I wanted to get across can be summarized like this. First, I believe the impact I-502 will have on patients has been exaggerated. Second, opponents don’t want a per se rule but society is generally comfortable with one. They seem to not want it mainly because they don’t trust officers to base arrests on PC. This distrust will never, in my opinion, convince voters to legalize marijuana for recreational use without safeguards such as a per se rule. Voters will err on the side of safety when it comes to these issues because of the decades of misinformation that has been forced down their throats. Lastly, the zero tolerance argument I’ve been seeing everywhere online is deceptive.
I want an initiative that strongly encourages responsible use if used at all, and I want an initiative that can pass and trigger reform nationally. I-502 does these things. I fully support it and appreciate the concerns of patients.
I would encourage you to spend a few days with a patient who is suddenly without a vehicle, Alex, and tell me that again. I KNOW the impact it will have as I have worked with the population for years as a home health nurse. Many will give up their meds to maintain their driving privileges, others will give up driving, and those left will be fair game for every cop having a bad day all across the state. It will especially affect the small towns, where police know who the patients are…..Walk in the patients shoes, I implore you! For just 24 hours. No money, no car, and disabled as hell, try to get around and see how easy it is. It’s not. 502 will add undue hardship to an already heavily stressed and burdened people. Why?
Troy Barber spews:
@51 – Again, Lee is spot on in his evaluation of the debate/dispute on this issue from cannabis activists.
Alex – I know of two existing cases that have been shared with me privately. In both cases, the reason to suspect impairment was because each suspect was a patient, and neither case was initiated from erratic driving. One was a broken tail light, the other was a single car accident from a stuck throttle.
I will not vote “yes” on the current iteration of I-502. As I have pointed out (repeatedly), passage of 502 creates potential for more arrests, not less. It creates the perfect recipe to exacerbate an illegal black market, while providing LEO with a new law to guarantee increased conviction rates, through the discriminatory DUI thresholds of 0.00 ng for under 21, or 5ng for 21 +.
I too agree, and see the logic of challenging federal law. I also consider it “wishful thinking” to ignore that the feds won’t just throw the tax and regulate sections out of court.
I-502 mandates cooperation of state agencies with federal. The application process for a “legal” cannabis business requires admission of intent to commit a federal crime. This is unconstitutional under the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and under Article 1 Section 9 of the Washington State Constitution. I-502 can, and likely will be judged unconstitutional. From that premise alone, the remainder may not get a hearing.
What we risk is passage of the DUI statutes, there is no reason for any law maker, or judge, to remove them. Taking away the right of defense through removal of rebuttable presumption will give prosecutors all they need to guarantee convictions, without the effort needed to prove impairment under current law.
“Now that Dom is exposed for a hypocrite, I’d like to take this time to point out another: Solomon Schecter, aka NotSpicoli…”
Mimi, you have a serious problem. And you work as a nurse? I find that scary in light of you apparent lack of rationality and propensity to make things up.
Last week you accused me of being Dominic Holden. This week I’m Solomon Schecter, whoever the heck that is.
While augmenting your whining and guilting with made up information may in your mind buttress your case, it does not.
Tricia Rogers spews:
notspicoli~ MIMI is a bit of a psychopath, rational is not in her way of thinking. Shit disturbing and lieing is all she knows! She is the reason shit keeps flying, I think shes working with “them” cause if she wasn’t she wouldn’t be trying to destroy the commonality of the situation, she would rather have people divided then united that is plain to see.
It boils down to this:
New Approach Washington holds that the DUI-C provision is directed at the concern over impaired driving. If, and only if, a driver is stopped with probable cause for suspected impaired driving, and there are reasonable grounds for believing that a driver is impaired, and reasonable grounds to believe the impairment is caused by marijuana or a drug other than alcohol, the officer may arrest and a blood test may be required. Blood testing is for the psycho-active delta-9 THC and not the metabolite carboxy THC.
The opposition, (as represented by groups such as Patients Against I-502) contends that medicinal marijuana users can have very high levels of delta-9 THC (over the proposed legal limit) but are not impaired. Because of their high levels of THC the law would “per se” make it illegal for them to drive. They fear that police will stop and even target them without probable cause and without evidence of impaired driving and demand that they submit to a blood test. This would result in arrest and possible loss of driving privileges.
When presented in a neutral form, devoid of hysteria, I am willing to trust the voters to make the sensible choice.
I am actually seeking a third way. Amendment of the state’s MUCA to allow for those who use cannabis medicinally to be accommodated by waiving the per se nanogram limits (but never impaired driving) as per Arizona which has a zero tolerance per se cannabis law but is also a medical marijuana (at least in name) state.
Yeah, Spicoli, that’s why when you were finally outed you screamed like a little kid to facebook about it, right? Said I got personal info off of another site and outed you, but you were a dumb ass and admitted it too, and now everyone knows you are Solomon Schecter (you have outed me a number of times, so all IS fair), dumb ass without a single bachelor’s degree who happens to make medibles and SELLS to patients!
What a hypocrite. I should have figured it out that first time, when you were asked to leave that booth because you were going off on people for no good reason, at least none we could figure out. But you were going off on people as NotSpicoli, only they knew you as Solomon.
Your lies are catching up to you and now YOU get tangled in your own web.
You are a joke.
Mimi, I encourage you to seek medical assistance. What you are saying is delusional and paranoiac. No kidding.
According to Wikipedia you died in 1915.
Since when is 18-20 crowd consider children?
Thank you Lee, for putting this story up. No thanks to the ACLU and NAW and Alison and her ilk, for working to make criminals out of innocent patients, in their quest to get high legally. You can argue it all you want, but it boils down to this: Alison Holcomb and NAW, via the ACLU, attempt to sacrifice the driving rights of the sick, disabled and dying. That’s not what I would expect out of an organization that purports to fight for the civil rights of Americans. It’s exactly what I would expect from a sleazy politician who cares for nothing but power and control, and is willing to throw anyone under the bus to get what they want.
Shame on you, ACLU!
Eve Lentz spews:
I-502 DOES NOT LEGALIZE anything but an ounce! It will criminalize unimpaired drivers, as a 5 NG limit is low, NOT based on Science, as the 49 page study you are basing the limit on, warns, in three different places!
Since 1998, when we made medical marijuana legal, where are all of the numbers showing that any “impaired” driving has increased? ( In fact it has decreased). To add the DUI penalties, just to get an initiative voted on, is dangerous to the lives of many sick people and stoners, alike, who drive.
I pray that we all can continue to agree to disagree, without name calling. Most of us have been at it for many years, and we all deserve RESPECT, even though we dis-agree on how to do that! With respect, I wish that we were convincing the public to approve legalization of Cannabis, without criminalizing things that are not wrong with our system. WE DO NOT NEED A 5 NG LIMIT ON DRIVING, especially when your own studies warn, in three different places, not to use the 5 NG limit as a limit for DUIC! DID ANYBODY EVEN READ THIS REPORT THAT THE I-502 INITIATIVE IS BASED ON!
Eve Lentz spews:
Also, If a driver is pulled over for any reason, and an officer see’s any reason to search and finds cannabis, that is reasonable cause to blood test, not any impairment noticed.. If that limit is 5 NG or over, it will not be because of impairment, but by law, he or she is considered impaired!
there is no evidence that smoking cannabis equals impaired driving.after all these years? cmon-there have been several driving/cannabis smoking studies over the years and the results are always suppressed ,surprise surprise. VOTE No on this one,its stupid!
“I am actually seeking a third way. Amendment of the state’s MUCA to allow for those who use cannabis medicinally to be accommodated by waiving the per se nanogram limits (but never impaired driving)…” NOtSpicoli
I am pleased to report that in the draft of the upcoming MUCA bill, Jennifer Kohl-Welles the following has been added (from the summary):
“Disallows conviction of DUI for qualifying patients based solely on the presence, or presence in a certain concentration, of components or metabolites of cannabis. Proof of actual impairment is required.”
I encourage the strongest possible support for this provision from all camps.
I encourage everyone to take a look at the Safe Cannabis Act and work to get it on the ballot. Whether I-502 makes the ballot or not, it’s time patients had protections and hemp was allowed for farming.
We have seen what our politicians have been unable to do: protect patients. It is up to us to make sure we are protected, especially from the likes of those at New Approach Washington.
Here is an excellent example of unimpaired driving by a medicated patient: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlD0H1eKyS0