Pubdate: Sun, 07 Oct 2012
Source: Bellingham Herald (WA)
Copyright: 2012 Bellingham Herald
Author: Poppy Sidhu
Note: Poppy Sidhu is a resident of Bellingham and the treasurer of 
the No on I-502 Committee.


As a Bellingham native, former student of Western Washington State 
University and a current medical cannabis patient, I find myself in 
the awkward position of having to strenuously oppose Initiative 502.

New Approach Washington, the sponsors of I-502, have steadfastly 
mischaracterized this legislation as the "legalization" of marijuana 
in Washington State. In order to "legalize" anything, including 
marijuana, you must remove all current laws that make it illegal. Not 
only does I-502 not remove any of the current laws making marijuana 
illegal in Washington, it adds new, and even more dangerous laws 
targeting marijuana users.

The sponsors of I-502 have developed an elaborate scheme that would 
have the state Liquor Control Board set up regulations for the 
production, processing and retailing of marijuana in state-licensed 
stores. The sponsors are selling this bill as a tax bonanza for the 
State of Washington that, according the state Office of Financial 
Management, could raise $2 billion dollars in taxes of the next five 
years. What they have conveniently left out of their million dollar 
TV campaign ads is the bad news provided by this same fiscal note 
from the Office of Financial Management.

The Office of Financial Management pointed out that this scheme could 
just as likely bring in absolutely zero in new state taxes if the 
federal government chooses to enforce the federal prohibition against 
the production, distribution and sales of marijuana in Washington 
State. Even the sponsors of this legislation agree that the 
Department of Justice will undoubtedly challenge this bill in federal 
court. Without actually legalizing marijuana here in Washington, 
which I-502 does not do, the state has no chance of successfully 
defeating this federal challenge.

So if the production, processing and retailing sections of this 
initiative are found to be illegal by a federal court, we're left 
with only the "per se" driving under the influence of drugs 
provisions of the bill still intact.

The sponsors of I-502 have attempted to sell us the idea that they 
needed to add a "per se driving under the influence of drugs" 
provision to the initiative so that uninformed voters would feel 
safer by knowing that there wouldn't be an epidemic of "drugged 
drivers" creating carnage on state highways.

The proponents of I-502 are attempting to sell us a Trojan Horse, all 
dressed up to look like the end of marijuana prohibition when it is, 
in fact, the latest strategy in the on-going, and totally failed, 
"war on drugs." This source of this strategy is no mystery. This 
latest plan is coming straight from the director of the Office of 
National Drug Control Policy, drug czar Gil Kerlikowske.

This strategy is to pursue what they refer to as "drugged driving." 
Drugged driving, as defined by this strategy, "refers to operating a 
vehicle with a measurable quantity of an illegal drug in the driver's body."

In 2011, the National Institute on Drug Abuse commissioned a report 
on "drugged driving." The author of the report was Dr. Robert L. 
DuPont. DuPont is best known as the first "drug czar" under President 
Nixon and he was appointed by Nixon to be the first director of the 
National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Dr. DuPont stated that "it is impossible to establish an impairment 
level for cannabis because of the relationship between the 
concentration of THC and marijuana metabolites in blood, urine and 
oral fluids is complex." He also concluded that "setting impairment 
thresholds based on blood levels or drug metabolites for illegal 
drugs is not a viable option." Dr. DuPont also stated: "The per se 
standard is not a measure of impairment but a marker of illegal 
driving behavior."

But setting a "per se" impairment level for THC in a driver's blood 
is exactly what this intitiative proposes to do. It seems clear that 
this "per se" driving under the influence of drugs law in I-502 was 
never really intended to remove impaired drivers from our state's 
highways, but rather an attempt to support this national drug control 
strategy by passing this "per se" law here in Washington.

No one is supporting impaired driving, but "per se" drug limits are 
clearly not about curbing impaired driving. It's obvious that this is 
nothing more than a new, and even more insidious, prohibition on the 
use of marijuana.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom