Tag: norml

Miami Valley NORML

Thanks Miami Valley NORML

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On May 16th, I was honored to speak to Miami Valley NORML about how to properly handle a police interaction.  I was also able to pledge the continued support of myself and my office in helping to end the scourge of drug war arrests and make marijuana legal in Ohio. I have devoted most of my professional life to ending the failed War on Drugs.  The speech focused on many ways to know and exercise your rights.

This may be the year that Ohio joins other states in re-legalizing marijuana. Miami Valley NORML is an indispensable partner in making this happen. If you would like to help, contact MVNORML at 937-TOP-HEMP ( 937-867-4367).

If you are arrested on suspicion of drugged driving, contact Miami Valley NORML attorney Charles M. Rowland II today!

Driving and Drugs: Ohio’s Per Se Marijuana Law

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While it is well established that alcohol consumption increases accident risk, evidence of marijuana’s culpability in on-road driving accidents and injury is far less clear. Although acute cannabis intoxication following inhalation has been shown to mildly impair psychomotor skills, this impairment is seldom severe or long lasting.  According to the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. State of Knowledge of Drugged Driving: FINAL REPORT. op. cit., “Experimental research on the effects of cannabis … indicat[e] that any effects … dissipate quickly after one hour.”  According to the 2004 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration factsheet, Drugs and Human Performance, peak acute effects are typically reached within 10 to 30 minutes after inhalation.

In Ohio, a person is guilty of DUI if he or she operates any vehicle under the influence of alcohol, a drug of abuse, or a combination of them. Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4511.19.  In Ohio the threshold for drugged driving is illustrated in the following table. Ohio’s DUI Per Se Levels Id. § 4511.19(A)(1)(vii); Id. § 4511.19(A)(1)(viii)(I)-(II).

Prohibited Substance Urine Blood
Marijuana 10 ng/ml 2 ng/ml
Marijuana metabolite 35 ng/ml 50 ng/ml
Marijuana metabolite in combination with alcohol or other drugs 15 ng/ml 5 ng/ml

The above levels establish a per se level above which a person is considered to be statutorily impaired by marijuana. Ohio’s law represents the imposition of per se laws for drivers who test positive for THC in the blood without additional demonstrable evidence of psychomotor impairment.  Just like with alcohol, the “legal limit” is not linked with any qualities of the individual, including weight, frequency of use, time of last use or the bodies ability to metabolize THC.  The penalties imposed for a violation of the marijuana per se law are equivalent to the penalties for OVI.

DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver in Fairborn, Dayton, Springfield, Kettering, Vandalia, Xenia, Miamisburg, Springboro, Huber Heights, Oakwood, Beavercreek, Centerville and throughout Ohio.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

Rowland Participates In Drug Debate

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Charles Rowland was honored to participate in a debate as part of the Heroin Seminar at Ohio Northern University which was sponsored by the Department of History, Politics and Justice.  The debate on the legalization of heroin was the culmination of an ongoing academic discussion of recognizing, understanding and fighting the abuse of heroin in the community.  Prof. Kevin Hill, a professor of law at Ohio Northern University spoke on behalf of keeping heroin illegal and subject to criminal sanction.  “Prof. Hill was one of my professors and he is a powerful advocate,” said Rowland.  Professor Hill’s  arguments for keeping heroin illegal are trumpeted by the Drug Enforcement Agency which argues that legalization would only increase the use and abuse of heroin.

Speaking on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P.) and in his capacity as a practicing criminal defense attorney, Rowland championed the idea of approaching the problems of heroin use in a more effective way.  His arguments centered on the failed “War on Drugs” and highlighted efforts to move our policy from enforcement, interdiction and incarceration to treatment and prevention.  “It was just great to stand on that familiar stage and argue for something that I have a great passion for.  I hope that we caused some policy-makers to rethink their approach to throwing people in prison.”  Rowland frequently speaks on behalf of L.E.A.P. and Miami Valley N.O.R.M.L. advocating an end to the failed policies of the drug war.

If you have been accused of a crime involving impaired driving or the use of illegal drugs, please contact Ohio OVI attorney  Charles M. Rowland II.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself the Miami Valley’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook and on the DaytonDUI channel on YouTube.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@DaytonDUI.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.  Charles M. Rowland II is working hard to be your trusted source for DUI information in the Miami Valley. “All I do is DUI Defense.”

Zero Tolerance for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs? (from NORML)

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration posted a press release entitled “Drug Use Among Fatally Injured Drivers Increased Over the Last Five Years“.  The release summarizes the full report that examines the the drug test results of drivers who had been killed in automobile crashes.  While the report itself is objective and offers many caveats about reading it as an indictment of drug-using drivers as serious safety risk, the mainstream media hasn’t been as “fair and balanced” and the Drug Czar has jumped on the release to forward his agenda.

The headline from the Associated Press reads: “Gov’t: Drugs were in 1 in 5 drivers killed in 2009“.  The lede for the story is:

About 1 in 5 drivers who were killed last year in car crashes tested positive for drugs, raising concerns about the impact of drugs on auto safety, the government reported Tuesday.

Other outlets like USA Today give it a more chilling headline: “U.S.: Third of tests on motorists killed shows drug use“.  The discrepancy results from the AP considering all drivers who were killed when not every driver killed was drug tested.  The USA Today considers the “tests on motorists killed”, thereby discounting the 37% of killed drivers who were never drug tested.  Whatever – 20% of all drivers or 33% of all drivers tested – they’re dead, they drove, there’s drugs, be afraid!

The AP then follows with a second paragraph that points out the obvious logical fallacy of “correlation = causation” – just because dead drivers had drugs in their system doesn’t mean drugs caused the accident that killed them – something the USA Today article never addresses:

Researchers with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the new data underscored a growing problem of people driving with drugs in their systems. But they cautioned that it was not clear that drugs caused the crashes and more research was needed to determine how certain drugs can hinder a person’s ability to drive safely.

However, while AP doesn’t get around to distinguishing what exactly “drugs” refers to until paragraph seven, USA Today opens by explaining we’re talking about all drugs, prescription and recreational:

One-third of all the drug tests done on drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents came back positive for drugs ranging from hallucinogens to prescription pain killers last year — a 5 percentage point increase since 2005, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reported Tuesday.

Nobody recommends driving while impaired by drugs – legal or illegal.  NORML has maintained this as a core Principle of Responsible Use for years.  But there are many legal prescription drugs that will cause impairment that bear the warning “Until you know how you may be affected by this drug, do not drive or operate heavy machinery,” which suggests to me that once you do know how it affects you, it’s your judgment call.  In fact, one of those drugs is prescription dronabinol, the synthetic cannabinoid THC marketed as “Marinol”.

AP’s seventh paragraph also points out that presence of a drug in your system may have no bearing on whether that drug was impairing you in the first place:

The tests took into account both legal and illegal drugs, including heroin, methadone, morphine, cocaine, methamphetamine, marijuana, LSD, prescription drugs and inhalants. The amount of time the drug could linger in the body varied by drug type, the researchers said, so it was unclear when the drivers had used the drugs prior to the fatal crashes.

Cannabis metabolites can be detectable in urine for weeks and THC itself can be detected blood for at least six hours.  Most illegal drugs can be detected for a few days in urine and a few hours in blood.  Prescription drugs are just as varied.  So we’ve got 20% or 33% of killed drivers who had a drug in their system that may or may not have contributed to the crash that killed them and they may or may not have taken that drug before driving.

For comparison’s sake, USA Today links to the stat that drowsiness was a factor in 17% of all fatal crashes.  You just may be more likely to die in a crash caused by lack of a nap as by taking the pill to get a good night’s sleep.  Are you scared yet?  Well, you should be, because the whole point of scaring you about the drugged drivers is the push for nationwide zero-tolerance DUID laws.  Back to the USA Today:

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, called the numbers of fatalities involving drugs “alarmingly high,” and called for more states to pass laws making it a crime to have illegal drugs in the body while driving, no matter how much. Seventeen states already have such laws.

The lack of research also presents a problem for lawmakers to develop laws. They can outlaw the use of all illegal drugs while driving, but what about someone who took a prescription sleeping pill a few hours ago?

Since they can outlaw the illegal drugs and there is no political cost in doing so, they will.  These “zero tolerance” laws means if they detect any metabolite of any illegal drug, you are guilty of driving impaired.  Since that joint you smoked could be detectable long after its effects had worn off, you’d be an impaired driver in the eyes of the law even if you were completely sober and unimpaired.  Since marijuana is detectable for much longer periods than most any other drug, legal or illegal, “zero tolerance” laws amount to witch hunts for cannabis consumers behind the wheel.

The irony here is that compared to the threat from drinking drivers, drowsy drivers, texting drivers, and prescription drugged drivers, the threat from drivers using cannabis is negligible.  Just last week we took a look at a study in the Netherlands that showed that experienced users can develop a tolerance to the psychomotor impairing effects of cannabis.  This summer we examined a study performed in Iowa and Connecticut that showed cannabis-using drivers performed as well on a driving simulator after smoking marijuana as they did before smoking marijuana.  (If you’d like the full examination of marijuana and driving, please see Paul Armentano’s impeccable white paper, Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review.)

As for the prescription drugs, there isn’t much political benefit in threatening a majority of your constituents, especially the older ones who do most of the voting, with a DUI charge for the pills the doctor required them to take every day.  Also consider the lobbying money and clout of Big Pharma that won’t look kindly on strict new driving laws that might cause people to use less pills.

No, the per se limit on prescription drugs isn’t coming to your state anytime soon… but maybe the end of driving privileges for cannabis consumers in your state is.  The seventeen states with current per se DUID laws are:

  • Arizona (except for medical marijuana patients), Utah, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Delaware, and Georgia already have these zero tolerance laws for any THC or metabolites of THC – if you toked within the past week, you could already be an impaired driver.
  • Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Rhode Island have zero tolerance for THC in the blood – if you toked before bed you might be an impaired driver in the morning.
  • Nevada and Ohio consider you impaired if they detect 2 nanograms (2 billionths of a gram) of THC per milliliter of blood (2ng/ml) and Pennsylvania raises that limit to 5ng/ml.
  • Virginia, Minnesota, and North Carolina have zero tolerance laws for drugs that do not include cannabis or its metabolites.
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DUID: Driving Under the Influence of Drugs

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A Cannabis sativa leaf.
Image via Wikipedia

Senate Bill 8 criminally penalizes motorists who drive with levels of THC above 2 ng/ml in their blood and/or levels of the inactive marijuana metabolite THC-COOH in their urine above 35 ng/ml. Ohio is only the third state to pass per se DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) legislation for motorists with trace levels of THC in their blood, and it is the sixth to criminalize motorists who drive with levels of non-psychoactive marijuana metabolites in their bodily fluid.

NORML Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano called SB 8 an “all out assault on Ohio’s marijuana smoking community.” He said: “THC may remain detectable in the blood at low levels long after the intoxicating effects of the drug have worn off. In addition, marijuana’s main metabolite remains detectable in urine for days and sometimes weeks after past use. As a result, this legislation may potentially and improperly define sober drivers as if they were intoxicated. Someone who smokes marijuana is impaired as a driver at most for a few hours, certainly not for days or weeks. To treat all marijuana smokers as if they are impaired, even when the drug’s effects have long worn off, is illogical and unfair.”

Armentano added, “Ohio already has effect-based laws on the books targeting and prosecuting drivers who operate a motor vehicle ‘under the influence’ of illicit drugs. Under Section 4511.19 of Ohio’s Revised Code, motorists face up to six months in jail if they drive ‘while under the influence of a drug of abuse.’ By contrast, SB 8 creates a separate crime of ‘drugged driving’ that is, potentially, divorced from impairment. This troubling bill looks to be nothing more than an attempt by the legislature to misuse the traffic safety laws to target the state¹s cannabis community.”

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