Last week, at a hearing of the state house's Public Safety Committee, several crime experts testified that DUIs have remained unchanged since voters passed Initiative 502, which both legalized pot and established a cutoff for drivers of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Granted, only two months have gone by since the voters passed the legalization law—so things could change. More DUIs could crop up. But it hasn't happened yet. At this point, the doomsday predictions of those people who claimed Initiative 502 would swiftly imprison every pot smoker for marijuana DUIs appear bogus.
"Despite what some people have been saying, there has been no increase in 'green DUIs' coming into the courthouses, nor any increase in the number of blood samples for THC coming to the state toxicology lab," state representative Roger Goodman (D-45), who chaired the hearing, said by e-mail. He added, "Testimony from prosecutors and defense counsel predicted that the five nanogram limit will rarely be used to obtain DUI convictions."
Dr. Fiona Couper, the state toxicologist whose lab examines every sample for pot DUI charges, said it's too early to make a final analysis, but "there doesn't appear to be a significant increase at all at this stage." Likewise, assistant city attorney Rachel Cormier Anderson said, "I-502 hasn't changed much." And Amy Freedheim of the King County Prosecutor's Office concurred—her office charged pot DUI cases before the initiative passed, and they continue to. "We look at the totality of an incident," added Freedheim, citing the circumstances of the crash and condition of the driver, not just the THC levels in drivers.
Of course, the medical marijuana activists who opposed I-502 on these grounds never had science on their side.
In Other Pot News: Given that possession is now legal, state representative Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Seattle) has introduced a bill that would vacate certain pot possession convictions from people’s criminal records. Hurrah! * We broke the news last Monday that two undercover King County cops coerced a man into selling them a joint even though the man didn’t want to sell any pot, according to court records. The cops busted him for felony sales when he accepted $5 for a joint he’d initially offered to share. But after we asked prosecutors if cops had pressured this suspect into a crime he didn’t intend to commit, they dropped the charges.