Washington: Marijuana DUI Patrols Planned for Seattle Hempfest
By Steve Elliott
With up to 200,000 expected in Seattle this weekend for Hempfest, cops looking to make "marijuana DUI" arrests -- whether those charged are actually impaired or not -- are going to have a target-rich environment.
The world's largest pot rally, hits the Seattle waterfront this weekend -- and it's probably not a coincidence that Washington state's "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign starts at the same time, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
The Drive Sober campaign runs from August 16 through September 2, reports Ben Livingston at SF Gate, and it will especially focus on catching drivers who have been smoking marijuana.
"Officers can tell when a driver is experiencing other effects of marijuana influence such as relaxed inhibitions, altered perception of time and distance, disorientation, incomplete thought processes and increased pulse," a clueless press release from law enforcement, customized county by county for the state, tells us.
Washington state voters approved marijuana "legalization" measure I-502 last November, and part of the language of the measure instituted a new marijuana DUI limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter (5 ng/ml), whereas cannabis DUI cases had previously been based on actual impairment.
The 5 ng/ml number, unfortunately, seems to have little scientific evidence to back it as a measure of actual impairment, and could result in unimpaired drivers being charged. Heavy cannabis users can show up over 5 ng/ml even if they haven't used marijuana at all that day and are completely unimpaired.
The state toxicologist says she expects 1,000 to 1,100 marijuana DUI cases a year in Washington under I-502 to result from the 6,000 samples from drivers submitted to the lab. She said the average is around 6 nanograms.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police must get a search warrant to draw blood from DUI suspects. To help give legal backing to such warrants, Washington has trained hundreds of police who they claim are now suddenly "drug recognition experts."