Marijuana: THC driving bill recommended by A64 task force "95 percent bad," attorney says
In Corry's view, "the permissible inference is a small step in the right direction. But the way I couched it last year was, if the bill can't be voted down, this is a fallback position. If it's a choice between per se and permissible inference and voting the bill down is not an option, then permissible inference would be better than per se. But I still think the current law is more than adequate, and probably more harsh."
As Corry points out, driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal right now, and would continue to be if the bill falls short a third time. "Prosecutors charge DUID [driving under the influence of drugs] quite frequently, and win much more often than they lose" -- around 90 percent of the time, according to an estimate offered by the Medical Marijuana Industry Group last year. "so the current law is already geared to driving people toward convictions and is fine to protect public safety."
Why, then, is there such a push for a THC driving standard? Right now, Corry explains, "the defendant is innocent until proven guilty." But under a permissible defense, "it would basically be guilty until proven innocent. A defendant who walks into court is assumed to be guilty" if he tested at five nanograms or above, "and he has to prove a negative -- that he wasn't intoxicated. And that's very hard to do."
This isn't the only problem with the legislation, in Corry's view. "The main problem is that the five nanogram number is a random number, a political number. There's no science that supports the number five, no study that says you're okay at four and not okay at six. The number was pulled out of a hat and the science isn't there. What that will mean is innocent people will be convicted. It will be a luck factor based on whether they can persuade a jury they're inoocent, because they walk in presumed guilty."
Do studies support his position. "They do," he says. "Science says marijuana effects everybody differently, and there are extreme differences between one person and another" -- especially medical marijuana patients who use so frequently that inactive THC lingers in their system.
Even so, the momentum appears to be with the THC driving bill this time around. Yet Corry isn't ready to surrender.
"It sure seems like God does not want this bill to pass," he says. "They've tried so many times before, and was supposedly a foregone conclusion that it would pass last year. But thanks to a combination of luck and sustained advocacy, it's been defeated multiple times.
"Maybe everything will come together again and this bill will die yet again. I hope so."
Look below to read the draft language for the current bill, followed by Corry's February 2012 letter.
More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving bill: Marijuana lawyer Rob Corry suggests a compromise."