Medical marijuana: Sean McAllister wants THC blood test document -- what's he been smoking?

Sean McAllister, the attorney who's co-chairing the state's DUID-marijuana working group, has a lot of suggestions for what we should do with medical marijuana coverage on this blog -- including banning certain commenters and, above all, keeping a closer eye on our dispensary reviewer, William Breathes.

Back in April, when the legislature was considering HB 1261, a proposal to set an official THC level for when a driver would be deemed to be driving under the influence of marijuana, Westword commissioned blood tests to see just how much active THC was in Breathes's blood after a night's sleep and more than fifteen hours of time from the last time he'd smoked or consumed pot in any other way. Those results -- showing him nearly three times over the limit that the legislature was considering, even though a doctor deemed him sober -- arrived just an hour before lawmakers were to discuss the proposal.

The measure was tabled.

Now, McAllister is co-chairing the group charged by the state Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice with recommending a new proposal for THC limits -- and coming under fire from pot proponents concerned that the group is violating state open-meetings rules. That controversy -- including one meeting's abrupt cancellation with no public notice last Wednesday and subsequent comments about both that cancellation and a video commentary -- prompted McAllister's recent missive to Westword, which includes this:

Also, on your Billy Breathes claim of 13.5 ng/ml 18 hrs after use, please release the lab results to me. Also, please indicate what proof you have that he was monitored to abstain during those 18 hrs. That results have never been verified or revealed beyond a verbal claim and they don't get much respect as a result.

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We're releasing those results not just to McAllister, but to everyone who reads this blog. The report -- sent to Dr. Alan Shackelford, who saw Breathes before the tests and ordered the blood work -- is reproduced below in an unretouched PDF of the original document.

As for the rest of McAllister's demand:

Westword has been in business for 34 years this week. Throughout those years, we've been committed to providing readers with informed, opinionated reviews of everything from music to movies, theater, art, dance, the media, restaurants and, now, dispensaries. I do not accompany those reviewers to the theater or a concert; I do not spy on them to determine whether they stayed awake through an entire performance or ate everything they said they did. By the same token, I do not accompany our reporters as they conduct interviews, go through files and conduct investigations. No matter what topic they're writing about -- whether it's politics or pot (or the overlap of the two) -- Westword writers know to conduct themselves responsibly, and we have a 34-year history to back that up.

Breathes, who was a reporter before he became a dispensary reviewer under a pen name (he uses his real name to access the clinics, and writes under a pseudonym so that dispensary owners do not know there's a critic in the house), planned his THC test project carefully and described the experiment at length on the blog. We know it will not win a Nobel Prize for science, but it succeeded in its goal: to inject some actual substance into the conversation.

As the report below shows, the first figure of 27 nanograms per milliliter of blood is the level of THC in Breathes's body at the time of the test. As Breathes wrote in his original blog: "The lab ran a serum/plasma test which showed my THC count to be at 27. According to Dr. Alan Shackelford, who ordered the blood work and evaluated my results, the number of active THC nanograms per milliliter count is about half of that total, or 13.5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood."

Ironically, the brief explanation of Delta-9 THC provided by the lab says that "usual peak levels" can range as high as 270 nanograms, but usually diminish to less than 5 nanograms after about two hours. Breathes says he waited more than fifteen hours before taking the test.

We stand by William Breathes's story, and wonder why McAllister is choosing to focus on this rather than the state's failure to come up with its own science. What has he been smoking?

Here's the test-results document, which can also be accessed by clicking here.

Willam Breathes THC Results

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "JonBenét Ramsey murder: Would the media have been obsessed with it if she'd been black?"


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