OH YES THEY DID: Washington Driver Gets Six Months for ‘Marijuana-Related’ Crash That May Have Had Nothing to Do With MarijuanaPosted: May 19, 2015
Jacob Sullum writes: Today a Vancouver, Washington, pot smoker received a six-month jail sentence, followed by five years of probation, in a case that seems to illustrate the injustice caused by his state’s new definition of stoned driving. Scotty Rowles was driving his 1995 Ford pickup truck on East Mill Plain Boulevard around 6 p.m. on December 17, 2012, when Donald Collins stepped from the median into the street in front of him. According to KPTV, the Fox station in Portland, Oregon, “Investigators said Collins was close to two different lit and controlled intersections, but stepped out in the middle of traffic to try and cross the road.” On the face of it, Collins’ death was not Rowles’ fault. But a police officer smelled marijuana on Rowles, who admitted that he had smoked “a little bowl” one or two hours earlier. He was charged with vehicular homicide.
Prosecutors dropped that charge after concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support it. But they changed their minds after a blood test put Rowles’ THC level at 7.2 nanograms per milliliter, 2.2 nanograms above Washington’s new cutoff for driving under the influence of marijuana. Because of that rule, which was included in the marijuana legalization intitiative that voters approved a month before the accident, Rowles was guilty of DUI even if he was not actually impaired. Since THC is absorbed by fatty tissue, regular cannabis consumers may test above five nanograms all the time, meaning they can never legally drive, whether or not their performance is affected. Knowing he would be convicted of DUI automatically…(read more)