Stoned Driving Takes a Backseat in California’s Legislature

While everyone from public policy experts to the underground betting community have wagered that California is a lock when it comes to the legalization of marijuana in 2016, it seems that state lawmakers have thrown in the towel when it comes to drafting legislation to police stoned driving.

For the first time in three assemblies, the state legislature did not receive a filing of any measure aimed at passing a more definitive law against operating a motor vehicle under the influence of marijuana. A recent report by SF Weekly showed that out of the almost 20 cannabis-related proposals submitted, not a single lawmaker took a stand on the issue of driving high.

Perhaps this is because state lawmakers are sick of the huge amount of discrepancies surrounding the definition of “stoned driving.” Some of the last proposals on the issue would have made it illegal for drivers to operate a vehicle with any sign of marijuana in their system.

Of course, those proposals were viciously attacked and, ultimately, snuffed out because they made outlaws of people who had consumed marijuana days or even weeks before being tested.

According to the Shouse California Law Group, in order for a person to be busted for stoned driving currently in California, an officer must prove that “your mental abilities were so impaired [by marijuana] that you were unable to drive with the caution of a sober person.”

In the past, lawmakers have armed their arguments against stoned driving with propaganda and countless other scare tactics. These tactics have become less effective in recent years, as the mainstream media has gotten more involved in reporting on the issue. Now, not only does the stoner class understand that the consumption of marijuana does not necessarily affect a person’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, but so does the portion of the population that does not partake.

While some studies of deadly motor vehicle accidents have revealed an increase in positive tests for marijuana, these results are often slanted in an effort to portray weed as the culprit behind roadway fatalities. However, these results only reveal an increase in overall marijuana consumption.

Unfortunately, cannabis intoxication cannot be sized up in the same manner as alcohol. While someone who has a few beers tonight after work will not likely show up drunk on a breathalyzer tomorrow morning, a person who smokes weed today will most certainly test positive for cannabinoids. This is why experts believe any legislation aimed at curbing stoned driving must shy away from the testing of marijuana compounds and focus on determining impairment.

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