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New Cannabis Initiative Offers Solutions for Drug Testing, DUIs

by Joseph Avery, published

A new marijuana legalization initiative, pending review by California’s Attorney General, is seeking access to the 2014 ballot. The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2014 hopes to be the green light marijuana activists have been searching for in the Golden State.

The CCHI aims to legalize all forms of cannabis hemp products, specifically stating those that are categorized as industrial, medicinal, nutritional, and euphoric products. Industrially, this can include fuel, paper, clothing, and plastics.

Medicinally, it can be used for treatments corresponding to serious medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, glaucoma, and multiple sclerosis. The euphoric portion of legalization addresses the legality of use for recreational purposes by people over 21 years of age.

Voters and proponents, however, may be skeptical since past cannabis initiatives have been rejected in California.

The 2012 election saw five cannabis initiatives all fighting for a spot on the ballot and, consequently, none made it. The array of initiatives caused fragmentation within the legalization movement that made it difficult to acquire funding.

“We’re all chasing the same dollars," said Steve Collett of the Regulate Marijuana Like Wine initiative .

If similarly competing initiatives arise, the California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2014 could meet the same fate as the California Cannabis Hemp

Initiative of 2012. The 2012 initiative was submitted by the same sponsors -- Michael Jolson, and Berton Duzy. It did not receive the signatures needed to appear on the ballot.

Proposition 19 -- the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 -- did make the ballot, but failed with 53.5 percent of the vote opposing it. The major concern cited by the California Police Chief’s Association was that Prop. 19 did not include a definition of driving under the influence. The proposition could have created situations where a person can drive, “even if a blood test shows they have marijuana in their system”.

The California Chamber of Commerce worried about the restrictions for employer's current drug testing abilities. Their complaints stated that they would not possess the power to take action until after an accident had occurred.

The CCHI’s language on the issues of the drug testing covers what Prop. 19 did not:

"No person shall be required to submit to testing for inactive and/or inert residual cannabis metabolites as a condition of any right or privilege including employment or insurance, nor may the presence of such metabolites be considered in determining employment, other impairment, or intoxication. Testing for active (not metabolized) cannabis may be used and considered in determining employment, impairment, or intoxication."

As drug testing currently stands, a citizen can be denied from a job, or considered worthy of a DUI, for testing positive for marijuana metabolites. Marijuana advocates cite the problem with this being that marijuana metabolites can last up to 6 weeks, even though the effects of the drug only last for a few hours.

In response to police concerns about driving impaired, the CCHI calls for lawmakers to treat marijuana similar to alcohol:

“Determine an acceptable and uniform standard of impairment based on scientifically acceptable performance testing to restrict persons impaired by cannabis hemp euphoric products from operating a motor vehicle or heavy machinery, or otherwise engaging in conduct that may affect public safety.”

These stipulations may not stifle opposition, but they do provide more specific aims that should address oppositional concerns without sacrificing their goal to improve legal treatment of marijuana users.

The California Cannabis Hemp Initiative of 2014 has a long road just to get on the ballot, but it provides drug testing details that failed attempts missed. Marijuana legalization now has public opinion, medical opinion, and legal precedent on its side, something previous California marijuana initiatives did not.

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