Archive for January 30th, 2013

by lizard

Apparently 68 Montana state legislators think that, for only $100,000 dollars, they will be able to find a way for law enforcement to determine if drivers are operating under the influence of marijuana, the dangerous, schedule I drug you can now smoke legally in Colorado and Washington.

How you ask? Law enforcement will carry special electronic devices equipped to show clips of Pineapple Express; a grin is an allowable limit of THC, but anything above a slight giggle will result in an on-the-spot quick-response blood test.

Obviously, that won’t be the method, but the article at the first link is woefully short on specifics regarding the effectiveness of testing for THC in a manner that proves intoxication while driving. For example, this is all the article says about those opposing this bill:

Opponents argue that testing is unreliable and can measures agents that don’t cause intoxication, but remain in the blood stream long after impairment.

This bill will be just one of many ways in which our taxpayer money will be wasted in Helena this year (Jerry O’Neil’s spanking bill is another example)

I guess there are plenty of state legislators who want to continue their crusade against marijuana, a crusade that came after years of inaction regarding what voters ok’d in 2006, ultimately culminating in the fear-mongering campaign against medicinal marijuana during the 2011 legislative session.

In response to this useless, anti-science legislation, I’m tempted to throw my useless blogger support behind Missoula’s very own Champ and his DUI scarlet letter bill:

Sponsored by House Representative Champ Edmund House Bill No. 276 seeks to revise DUI laws by forcing offenders to inherit orange licenses plates to identify themselves while driving.

Some might compare a new DUI bill to the scarlet letter. It will brand your vehicle for five-years with orange licenses plates with the beginning letters DUI.

I don’t think public shaming is a good idea, but I do think Montana is a state with a serious drinking problem, so if we’re going to talk about driving while impaired, then we need to be talking primarily about alcohol.

In a Billings Gazette article that includes the term “DUI fatigue” in the title, a result of the last legislative session is actually credited with being effective and therefore possibly expanded. From the article:

The most notable success in 2011 was the passage of the “24/7” law that requires repeat DUI offenders to submit to breath tests twice a day, at their own expense. (Ankle bracelets that react to alcohol use are options, albeit more expensive ones, for people who live far from testing centers.)

Before 24/7, those convicted of DUI who continued to drink – let alone drive – suffered consequences only if they were caught, said Maj. Tom Butler of the Montana Highway Patrol.

With 24/7, the consequences are immediate: Skip a test, get a warrant. Blow “hot,” go to jail.

The program became law under the watch of then-Attorney General Steve Bullock, who heavily promoted it. Now governor, Bullock noted last week that of the 157,000 tests administered under 24/7 during the past 15 months, 99.7 percent showed that the offender hadn’t had a single drink.

Such results are so promising that there’s a move to apply the 24/7 concept to other crimes, such as domestic abuse, where alcohol is a frequent factor, Butler said.

“Unfortunately, alcohol is a root cause of a significant number of law enforcement calls,” he said.

Alcohol is that, and so much more.  

For some good news about a new inpatient treatment option here in Missoula, and some jaw-dropping numbers about the economic impact of alcohol abuse, click continue to read more. Continue Reading »

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