New In 2017: Don’t Toke And Drive

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When Prop 64 passed, making marijuana legal for recreational use, lawmakers were quick to find a loophole in it that fails to specifically address the use of marijuana products while behind the wheel.

As it stands now, it’s illegal to drive while stoned, as well as having an open container of pot in a vehicle, but the wording doesn’t address the actual consumption of it while operating any motorized vehicle.

Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, and Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, recently introduced Senate Bill 65 which will make it illegal to smoke or consume marijuana in any form while driving a vehicle or piloting a boat or plane, consistent with laws on alcohol consumption. The penalty will vary from an infraction to a misdemeanor.

“This legislation makes our laws for smoking while driving consistent with drinking while driving,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “With New Year’s Eve approaching, it’s important to remind Californians that impaired driving can be deadly.”

“We see all-too-often the terrible toll impaired driving takes on our citizens. This law underscores that driving is a serious responsibility that should be undertaken without impairment,” added assembly member Low, D-Silicon Valley.

In addition to an infraction or misdemeanor charge, the possible penalty for using pot while driving may also include drug or alcohol education as well as counseling classes.

However, according to this article, a complication of Senate Bill 65 is the potential testing of how high a driver is. THC does not show up immediately in the bloodstream after consumption, and it can stay in the body’s system for up to a week after smoking, and this can make coming to a quick assessment of one’s level of impairment more difficult. In addition, no threshold has been established on the amount of THC someone can have in their system while driving.