The vote to legalise cannabis use recreationally is about to take place in three different American states, in a move which could overshadow even this week’s Presidential elections in terms of both national and global impact. Within 48 hours we could see people in Oregon, Washington, and Colorado pass legislation which will make it legal to possess cannabis for personal use.
Support for the measure is strong, with Reason.Com offering the latest polling figures:
The latest Washington Poll suggests that state’s marijuana legalization initiative probably will pass on Tuesday: 55.4% of likely voters favored Initiative 502, while just 37.6% were against it.
That level of support is consistent with other polls taken this month and last. Colorado’s marijuana legalization initiative, Amendment 64, may also pass. A Public Policy Polling survey put support among likely voters at 53%, with 43% against.
Initiative 502 stipulates:
- It would no longer be a crime for adults 21 and over to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use.
- Specially-licensed Washington farmers would be allowed to grow marijuana that could be sold in standalone, marijuana-only package stores operated by private Washington businesses licensed and regulated by the state.
- Public display, and smoking in bars or other locations where tobacco smoking is prohibited, would not be allowed.
- Advertising and store locations would be restricted to minimize exposure to people under 21.
Prohibition Funding Could Be Reapportioned
However, many cannabis users are confused as to which way to vote. That is, at least in Washington. I’ve read numerous rants by cannabis proponents who are caught up on a combination of misinformation and scaremongering, particularly with respect to the elements on ‘stoned driving’. In particular there’s provision for users with a certain amount of THC in their system to be charged with DUI offences. A simple glance at the New Approach website would explain just what this means.
People tend to mistake THC presence for that of carboxy-THC, which THC gets converted to by the body (metabolite). The latter can stay in the system for weeks, but the former is something which is only present for a matter of hours, before the body converts it into carboxy-THC. Modern science can and does easily distinguish between the two, but unfortunately many of the anti-502 side have neglected this fact, and started spreading fear that somebody who smoked a joint two weeks ago could face prison for driving today. That’s a complete nonsense, born out of a failure to understand the difference between chemicals.
The reality is that after just a couple of hours, somebody who has consumed cannabis would most likely have less than the legal limit of THC in their system. The below diagram and information attests to this fact. As an aside, I believe that such limits are absolutely necessary, not just to show that cannabis users are considerate and responsible people, but also for the safety factor. If you’ve just had a joint, I don’t want you behind the wheel of a car. Whilst the level of intoxication isn’t even close to that of a drunk, it’s still an impaired state, and it’s unfair to risk the safety of others. Your need to drive whilst stoned comes a distant second to the rights of pedestrians and other road users.
Facts about 502 DUI regulations
Furthermore, opponents engage in rather paranoid thinking when it comes to traffic stops. In order for a police officer to perform a stop they have to have good reason. Now, we know that there are always crooked cops, but it’s unreasonable to suppose that this is the norm, or that worst-case scenarios should override far more likely scenarios. Imagining the police inventing reasons to stop drivers (on the off-chance that they will be stoned) is all good and well, but how does that stack up against the very real situation of thousands going to prison every year? As with most things in life, we can imagine situations in which the worst possible outcome is achieved, but that shouldn’t hinder us addressing the best ‘net’ gain scenario.
The edge-case, imagined, paranoid fantasies of how Initiative 502 could play out are dwarfed by the benefits it would definitely bring, which can be identified and quantified in reduced suffering for cannabis consumers.
So let’s get out there and vote… let’s mobilise those around us and ensure this opportunity isn’t missed. Do you want to tell your grandchildren about the time you maintained the status quo out of fear, or that time you changed the world? The choice is yours – you have the power and information capable of revolutionising cannabis law globally, now let’s go make things happen.