Senate Bill 8, introduced by Jeff Jacobson (R-6th District) and Steve Austria (R-10th District), would make illegal operating a vehicle if virtually any amount of a controlled substance or metabolite of a controlled substance is present in one’s blood or plasma. A Driving under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) conviction would be a felony offense. This criminalization of post-drug use is in stark contradiction to scientific evidence that metabolites of drugs remain in bodily fluids long after any high has disappeared. The Senate vote was 30-1, with Senate Minority Leader C.J.  Prentiss, D-Cleveland, casting the only “no” vote. This bill was sent to the House on February 17th for approval.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Senior Policy Analyst Paul Armentano strongly criticized the proposed legislation, arguing that it improperly defines and punishes sober drivers as if they are impaired. “Because marijuana’s main metabolite, THC-COOH, remains detectable in certain bodily fluids, particularly urine, for days and sometimes weeks after past use, this legislation seeks to define sober drivers as if they were intoxicated,” he said. “Someone who smokes marijuana is impaired as a driver at most for a few hours. To treat all marijuana smokers as if they are impaired, even when the drug’s effects have long worn off, is illogical and unfair.”

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