Zero Tolerance Policy Proposed on Drivers under the Influence of Cannabis

Young adult cannabis-consuming drivers in California beware: Sen. Jerry Hill introduced a bill on Feb. 16 that would implement a zero tolerance policy on drivers under the age of 21 who drive under the influence of cannabis.

Senate Bill 1273 would apply to Californians under the age of 21 who are pulled over by authorities on suspicion of driving under the influence of cannabis and tests positive for THC in an oral swab saliva or chemical test. The bill creates seven DUI drug categories including cannabis, depressants, dissociative anesthetics, hallucinogens, inhalants, narcotic analgesics and stimulants—although its main objective would be focused on drivers who consume cannabis.

“This bill will save lives by making it illegal for drivers under age 21 to drive under the influence of marijuana, just like current law for alcohol,” said Sen. Hill.

The law would be modeled after similar alcohol laws. Current law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from having any amount of alcohol in their system. If young drivers test at 0.01 or higher for alcohol on a breathalyzer test, their license is suspended by the DMV for at least one year.

Last year, officers from the San Diego Police Department were deployed into the streets, armed with the “Drager 5000,” a controversial oral swab device that detects cannabis and other drugs. Unfortunately, many believe there’s no accurate way of detecting cannabis in the bloodstream. Gadgets come and go, but due the nature of cannabinoids, they can remain in the bloodstream for 30 days or more.

The bill is supported by Smart Approaches to Marijuana under its “High Means DUI” campaign.  “Because legalization has further normalized the view that marijuana is harmless among young people, we have to send the message that driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous,” President Kevin A. Sabet said in a statement. “This bill is key to reiterating the message to our young people that driving under the influence of any drug, including marijuana, at any time, is unacceptable, risky and dangerous.” The “High Means DUI” campaign features large photos of people killed by drivers, and blames cannabis.

Sen. Hill recently helped pass a law which prohibits both drivers and passengers from consuming cannabis in a vehicle. He did, however, support a bill that allows children to be administered medical cannabis in schools.

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