Senator Morgan Carroll saw the passage of HB 1261, a bill to set THC driving standards, as inevitable despite evidence like medical marijuana critic William Breathes's blood test showing he was nearly triple the proposed 5 nanogram per milliliter of blood standard even when sober. Nonetheless, the bill died in the Senate yesterday amid a series of surprising political maneuvers.
Cannabis Therapy Institute's Laura Kriho credits advocates like Corey Donahue, who's part of an organization called Crazy for Justice, for helping doom the bill. In a statement, she notes that "Corey spent the whole day down at the Capitol... trying to educate the senators. His effort was an enormous help." She adds, "The Senate got pressure from everywhere."
Of course, much of the lobbying came from supporters of the bill -- particularly members of the law enforcement community, as Carroll noted in an interview yesterday. Last month, the judiciary committee she chairs had put HB 1261 on hold, arguing that further study was needed to determine if the 5 nanogram standard, or any standard, made sense given the variety of ways THC impacts (and lingers in) the system. But the appropriations committee, nudged by those law enforcement backers, stripped out the study language on Friday, and notable Democratic defections convinced Carroll that the bill would sail through second and third readings in the full Senate en route to passage.
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But no: According to Kriho, delays in the initial vote gave lobbyists like Donahue more of an opportunity to convince Senators on the fence about HB 1261 that the bill was fatally flawed. Shortly thereafter, the Senate adopted the judiciary committee's study recommendation by voice vote.
A scramble followed, with senators Steve King and Becky Boyd pushing an amendment to reverse the previous vote. That prompted a roll call -- and the amendment went down by a 20 to 15 count.
In Kriho's words, the result is "a huge victory for patients, who fought to uphold their rights with hundreds of letters and phone calls." She asks supporters to contact their elected representatives again -- this time to thank them for standing against legislation that Carroll says "isn't ready for prime time."
More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving limits could cause more innocent people to spend months in jail, attorney says."