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Driving-while-high bills die in California Legislature

 (Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

While the use of marijuana is skyrocketing in California, two bills aimed at cracking down on motorists who drive under the influence of pot were shelved Friday after cannabis industry officials said they were not supported by science.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee sidelined a measure by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) that would have made it a crime for a person who has 5 nanograms or more of THC, the active ingredient in pot, per milliliter in their blood to drive a vehicle.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also killed a measure by Republican Sen. Bob Huff of San Dimas that would have allowed law enforcement officers to use oral swab tests to strengthen cases.

Huff said his bill is needed, given that medical marijuana is legal in California and a measure proposed for the November ballot would allow recreational use of the drug.

“The use of both legal and illegal drugs while driving is rampant and fatal accidents are on the rise,” Huff said. “I’m disappointed that members of the Appropriations Committee killed this bill, imagining a state cost where none existed.”

He said he had hoped to get federal grants so law enforcement could buy new technology to test motorists.

The decision to shelve the bills was welcomed by Amanda Reiman, a manager with the Drug Policy Alliance.

“California is wise to express a desire to better understand the relationship between cannabis use and impairment before passing laws that could unduly impact those in California most in need of cannabis to alleviate their suffering,” Reiman said.

She noted that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act proposed for the November ballot sets aside revenue to research how to detect impairment.


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