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Montana: Governor Signs Unscientific DUI Cannabis Measure Into Law

Governor Steve Bullock signed House Bill 168 into law on Friday, April 5. House lawmakers approved the measure by a vote of 80 to 18 and Senate lawmakers concurred by a vote of 48 to 12.

The new law takes effect on October 1, 2013.

House Bill 168 imposes a 5ng/ml per se threshold for THC in blood for anyone operating a motor vehicle. Montana is the fifth state to impose a per se threshold for cannabinoids, joining Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml). Ten additional states impose zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites.

You can read the full text of HB 168 here: http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2013/billpdf/HB0168.pdf

First time convictions under the new state law are punishable by license revocation, loss of commercial drivers license, a fine of up to $1,000,and up to six months imprisonment. State-licensed medical marijuana patients convicted under the per se law also face revocation of their state registry identification card.

Ironically, despite the overwhelming state political support for this new law, the only scientific assessments regarding whether the imposition of such laws lower incidences of DUI driving or traffic fatalities show that they do not: e.g.:

http://ftp.iza.org/dp7048.pdf

Per Se Drugged Driving Laws and Traffic Fatalities

“Our results provide no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.” 

Further, even the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that THC/blood concentrations are poor predictors of behavioral impairment.

http://www.nhtsa.gov/People/injury/research/job185drugs/cannabis.htm

“Interpretation of Blood Concentrations: It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person's THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. ... It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone, and currently impossible to predict specific effects based on THC-COOH concentrations. ... Some drivers may actually be able to improve performance for brief periods by overcompensating for self-perceived impairment.”

For further information regarding cannabis and psychomotor performance, please see our white paper here.


 







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