New bill could leave patients under constant threat of DWI
District 31 state legislative representative William “Bill” R. Rehm is a retired police officer who has introduced several bills during this year’s legislative session that echo the “Tough on Crime” rhetoric of the 90s, including a revival of the Three Strikes Law. He has sponsored a bill related to marijuana that ignores the medical marijuana community as a legitimate population of marijuana users.
HB 22 – DWI for Certain Drugs & Interlocks
This bill proposes that illegally driving under the influence of marijuana be defined at “five nanograms per milliliter of blood.” The bill uses the word “marijuana” only once, and then uses the general term “drugs” to represent a group of substances including cocaine, heroin and meth.
Of the substances on the list, marijuana and morphine are the only items listed that can be obtained with a prescription, everything else would be obtained via street market for recreational use or abuse.
The bill does not mention medical marijuana, instead treating anyone with marijuana in their system the same. This does not take into account that research has shown that regular users like medical marijuana patients will have higher levels of THC in their bloodstreams than occasional users, or that, because of the way THC is stored by the body, a high THC level will not subside for weeks after discontinuing use.
Intoxication beyond one’s ability to drive a car is possible with marijuana; however, the science to back up exactly how to accurately test for that is lacking. The bill lays down a hard limit of THC that does not consider that research has shown regular users like medical marijuana patients will have higher levels of THC in their bloodstreams than occasional users, or that because THC is stored within the fat cells of the body, a high THC level will not subside for weeks after discontinuing use.
It’s important to remember that all the other horrible consequences that come with an alcohol-related DWI come with a marijuana-related DWI.
The bill is still within the House Committee on Consumer and Public Affairs and not currently scheduled for review.
Sponsor: William “Bill” R. Rehm, 505-986-4214
Chair of Committee: Eliseo Lee Alcon, 505-986-4425
Patricia Roybal Caballero, 505-986-4248
Deborah A. Armstrong, 505-986-4840
Bob Wooley, 505-986-4454
Monica Youngblood, 505-986-4242