Oklahoma Becomes Third State This Year To Approve Unscientific Per Se Limits For Cannabis

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation, House Bill 1441, into law that criminalizes drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have any detectable amount of THC and/or its inactive metabolites in their blood, saliva, or urine. Under such internal possession statutes, known as zero tolerance per se laws, a motorist who tests positive for the presence of such compounds is guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation, regardless of whether or not there exist supporting evidence that the defendant was behaviorally impaired by such compounds.

Residual, low levels of THC may remain present in the blood of occasional consumers for several hours after past use and for several days in habitual consumers — long after any behavior-inducing effects of the substance have worn off. The inert carboxy-THC metabolite, a commonly screened for byproduct of THC, possesses a longer half-life in blood and also may be present in the urine of daily cannabis consumers for several weeks, or even months, after past use.

Oklahoma will become the 11th state to impose such a strict liability per se standard once the law takes effect on October 1, 2013. It is the third state this year to amend its traffic safety laws to include either per se thresholds or presumptive limits for cannabinoids.

Ten additional states – Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin – already impose zero tolerance per se thresholds for the presence of cannabinoids and/or their metabolites.

Five states impose non-zero-tolerant per se thresholds for cannabinoids in blood: Montana (5ng/ml — the new law, HB 168, signed in April, takes effect on October 1, 2013), Pennsylvania (1ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), Nevada (2ng/ml) and Washington (5ng/ml).

Last month, Colorado lawmakers also approved legislation, effective as of July 1, 2013, stating that the presence of THC/blood levels above 5ng/ml “gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.”

However, according to the United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA): “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

In addition, a 2013 academic review of per se drugged driving laws and their impact on road safety found “no evidence that per se drugged driving laws reduce traffic fatalities.”

NORML argues that it is inadvisable to infer behavioral impairment based on the presence of cannabinoid levels alone — a position that we outline here, here, and in public testimony here.

71 thoughts

  1. I just read the whole law and it doesn’t make any sense. They just keep saying over and over the marijuana is basically the same thing as alcohol. Doesn’t this ivalidate the law? How does one because “intoxicated” by a non-toxic substance? Lies, Lies and more Lies.

    [Paul Armentano responds: The relevant provision of this amended law is as follows:

    Section 11-902. A. It is unlawful and punishable as provided in this section for any person to drive, operate, or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within this state, whether upon public roads, highways, streets, turnpikes, other public places or upon any private road, street, alley or lane which provides access to one or more single or multi-family dwellings, who:

    … 3. Has any amount of a Schedule I chemical or controlled
    substance, as defined in Section 2-204 of Title 63 of the Oklahoma
    Statutes, or one of its metabolites or analogs in the person’s
    blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid at the time of a test
    of such person’s blood, saliva, urine or any other bodily fluid
    administered within two (2) hours after the arrest of such person;]

  2. Query whether the courts will find the laws unconstitutional because per se laws lack rational basis.

  3. Ouch Oklahoma! Tornadoes and now this crap.

    How many more forced rehabilitation profits will there be? You know, after arrest they do a piss test and if they find anything it’s automatic drug counseling and before you know it you found religion or whatever. X number of months of re-education classes and surprise piss tests, probation. And the person doesn’t even have to be high at the time of the test. All they gotta do is take you downtown and … Effinsux

    What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Then the same for alcohol. If they detect any amount of alcohol in your system, same shit: drug counseling and into a forced testing program and probation. Bitches gotta be tough on drugs then be tough on drugs, including alcohol. What is the equivalent in alcohol like Breathalyzer for 1 ng/ml, 2, 3, etc.? This looks like a job for MADD. Sick ’em!

    Creeque Alley


    The Mamas and the Papas

  4. Again I see the day the Goverment doesn’t waist a dime locking up pot smokers, you just won’t be able to drive a car, hold a job, get a loan, rent an apartment, adopt a child or even raise your natural child… Millionairs toke up.

  5. Who are the winners when this legislation is enacted and who are the main lobbyist pushing states towards zero tolerance? Unscientific guess is drug testing companies and federal government efforts to stop forward momentum of legalization.

  6. when will we split and form a country that is eco-friendly and let the people that want to destroy themselves have their wish? I am tired of calling myself an American, what does it mean? to kill our own? to destroy people for nothing? if any other country declared war on their own people with such immoral proclamations, we would have already invaded and declared a democracy…and yeah, we would have invaded, we have oil….

  7. We seem to be spiraling. We make some progress then take 10 steps back! When is our gov’t going to admit that prohibition was a scam, they’ve lied to us from the beginning, The war on drugs was a smokescreen for them getting their patent #6630507. (They were applying for this patent at the same time they were classifying cannabis as a schedule 1 drug!)Utter hypocrisy!

  8. It’s obvious that politics are being applied to science and not the other way. ng/ml is a scientific measure of quantity of THC and 1, 2, and 5 are arbitrary numbers these rednecks have placed on the limit. It looks like these idiotic ‘lawmakers’ have lost their brain cells to alcohol that qualifies for schedule 1 status and is the most dangerous drug in the world because it incapacitates you, unlike pure cannabis without the herbicides (no thanks to the US army) pesticides and PCP sprinkled on it. Mix alcohol with medicine and the medicine becomes highly dangerous. Ban alcohol!

  9. After 100+ years of Sisyphean efforts,there
    are still those in power who want to proceed with endless acts of futility,creating a black market and funding source that is untaxed and unstoppable.
    I realize that 50% of the populace have below average IQ’s, but how do those morons get into positions of power?
    What they are doing is eroding the common respect for the law of the land and that is too bad, but it sure fills up their prisons which is the real reason they force their rules on the majority.
    America is not and has never been the bastion of freedom we wish it were.
    The statue of Liberty was picketed by women who had no right to vote! when it was presented to America, that says a lot right there! not to mention n the black American story

  10. Any normal person would agree with NORML’s position on this issue. Obviously, the legislators making these foolish decisions regarding one’s THC levels are NOT normal!

    I believe that the only thing that should matter is the level of impairedness when it comes to law enforcement. That should be determined based on a mental/physical test; along with having been observed while driving. If someone driving is found to be too impaired to drive, for any reason (don’t single out cannabis users) then they should be held accountable.

    It is just STUPID to set some arbitrary limit that has little to do with someone’s actual ability to drive safely!

  11. Marijuana prohibition, and the drug war overall, has always been a per se policy. If you have used a prohibited substance, you are assumed to be an addict in need of punishment and treatment. There is no requirement to show that any harm was caused or that addiction actually exists. Oddly, addiction and substance abuse, per se, are not illegal. If they were, most of the population would be subject to arrest for alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, etc., misuse.

  12. This is the type of hillbilly thinking that is the reason the whole family moved to Colorado. Oklahoma can fly with the tornadoes, even nature don’t like Oklahoma!!!!

  13. Oklahoma, with the sole exception of North Korea, is the last place on earth I would want to live! The weather there is awful; as are their politicians…

  14. The good thing about this is we can vote out all these officials in the next election,and put them out to pasture where they belong! Legalize,Tax,Regulate,save social security.


    ***While other states are legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis, and numerous states in our Union have Medical Cannabis Programs, Oklahoma’s stupid, backwards, red-neck republican governor does some stupid s___ like this!!!! SMH!!!! WTHECK!!!! DAMN IDIOT!!!

  16. Really? Ban Alcohol? Sure let’s end the prohibition of marijuana and replace it with alcohol prohibition. You do realize that alcohol in moderation can have health benefits? Why don’t we let individuals decide what they want to put into their own bodies, whether it’s alcohol, marijuana or some other substance?

  17. A typical reaction by angry red-staters. Legalization is inexorably happening, and they can’t stand it. Look for other isolated reactions in the red states such as this.

  18. The entire ‘drug war’ is a pre se fallacy.

    If one were to graph the STATED reasons for the drug war, generally the level of impairment a substance is capable of causing, as well as its propensity for addiction. Then, if you do research and seek to find where these classifications would really fall would see that:

    Alcohol, for all its good and bad, ends up at the maximum for its impairment level, and nearly there for its addictivity.

    Cigarettes actually define the upper limits of addictivity. (Due almost solely to the additives.)

    Now, with this graph, and after plotting all other known compounds to the best reasonable assessment which can be made-

    it becomes clear that the repealing of the prohibition of alcohol, fell short of the ultimate logical conclusion:

    the drug war has failed, and was only ever a war the people by other people, often extremely hypocritical. No young black boy I ever knew could have tried, and stepped up to be President of the US and made it past round 1 if he had ever had a record for any cannabis conviction

    “History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.”


  19. Better to look like mr straight driving oakie. Slap a Jeebus sticker on the bumper and be sure to shave. Smile at the cop. Stay free..

  20. Are we sure her name is Fallin, and not Failin’. That is just what she’s doing to the fine citizens of Oklahoma. I live in Wa. but this new law has me worried and should also have people wondering “who, or in what way does this benefit Ms. Fallin”? As usual I’m sure the answer is to follow the money.

  21. It’s now possible to legally consume marijuana in Colorado, drive to Oklahoma two weeks later, then receive a DUI there even though you have never been impaired to any extent whatsoever in Oklahoma nor have you broken any other laws. To be an Oakie you apparently don’t have to be the smartest pencil in the box you just have to hate and be intolerant of the rest of the pencils in the box…

  22. You Oklahoma residents better be calling your representatives and giving them shit!!

    Unbelievable, so just cause you smoke you cant fucking drive? Got dammit i hate when idiots are in charge…

  23. Oklahoma is cleansing itself from humanity. They believe people who smoke pot don’t go to church.

  24. Elainr says:
    June 12, 2013 at 10:09 am
    ‘Oklahoma, with the sole exception of North Korea, is the last place on earth I would want to live! The weather there is awful; as are their politicians…”

    Did you know that cannabis is legal in North Korea?
    .It grows freely along roadsides and vacant lot’s ,and is considered a healthier alternative than tobacco.So the next time some cowboy tells you about North Korea’s oppressive regime(if you have the opportunity)tell them “did you know that they have a life sentence for hashish? and then say-‘oh,i’m sorry,i meant Oklahoma has a life sentence for hashish, who is the communist now,boy? Get out of here with you’re “land of the free, nonsense.”

    On second thought,don’t do it.Especially if you are in a bar or tavern in the Sooner State, and are chasing down beer’s with shots of whiskey.Not a good topic for conversation.

  25. Yes, really, ban alcohol. There is some benefit in it but the harm is much more. It’s a no-brainer. The harm is 80,000 deaths a year and violent crime including domestic violence and rape. The benefits: comparable to drinking grape juice. Cannabis is not the same as alcohol in any way. It is quite the opposite. Cannabis is a stimulant, alcohol is a depressant. Not all cannabis is intoxicating, especially if you factor out herbicides sprayed by the army in the war against drugs, pesticides by some growers, and PCP, rat poison and whatever else your suppliers may add to it to ‘enhance’ it. Every type of alcohol is an intoxicant. Ban alcohol!

  26. Its going to get a lot worst when a Tea Party get in office. Its like one person said in here they are going to teast u. For u to even get to buy grocerys at a store.

  27. New, true-to-life State Mottos…

    “Oklahoma…not OK”

    “Oklahoma: The weather here is awful; as are our politicians…”

    “Oklahoma…The last place on earth I would want to live!”
    (At least cannabis is LEGAL in North Korea!!!).

    “Even NATURE don’t like Oklahoma!!!!”

    “Oklahoma: Flies away with the tornadoes”

    “Oklahoma: Got an ulcer in Tulsa”

    “Amohalko: Land of stupid, backwards, red-neck government…”

  28. @Dennis King – The problem with voting people out is that, all too often, their replacements are not that different… What I believe would make a huge step towards this country being truly democratic (i.e. following the will of the people) is for the people to be able to vote on our laws instead of simple choosing between tweedle dee and tweedle dum! If that was the case, cannabis would be legal right now and it would not be so easy to get dangerous weapons (e.g. assault rifles).

  29. Kinda wish those tornadoes had hit the state capitol and taken the governor with them. What a massively ignorant twat.

  30. I never said it was the same as cannabis. But why should responsible drinkers have to pay for the stupidity of others? Prohibition regardless of what substance it is, only creates more violence. Remember Al Capone? Not only that, but prohibition is based off of an evil idea: The idea that the state owns you and can therefore decide what you can and cannot consume.

  31. @ Anonymous, the CSA did outlaw Alcohol and Tobacco–Any addictive drug that has no health benefits is a controlled dangerous substance. Marijuana doesn’t qualify as a schedule one material, they arbitrarily put it there–all they have to do *is* follow the law. Arbitrary law enforcement actions aren’t legal.

    [Paul Armentano responds: Neither alcohol nor tobacco nor nicotine are classified under the Controlled Substances Act.]

  32. So any traceable amount of a schedule 1 controlled drug? Wouldn’t Marinol produce the same results…and it isn’t schedule 1.

  33. This is the new frontier for law enforcement bucks. If you had one beer and were not drunk you are not a criminal. with this just prove they used it and they are guilty. Lets face it the public is a victim once again. I compare our government to a federal mafia. There are pay offs and favors, and now if those pesky citizens get in your way put them in the prisons for profit. it is a win win. every time i here one of our politicians call us a “SHINING CITY ON A HILL ,A BEACON TO ALL” I just want to hurl ! THERE IS A CONCENTRATED EFFORT RECENTLY TO VILLAINIES POT LIKE THE CRANE OPERATOR THAT HAD AN ACCIDENT LAST WEEK IN PA.. THEY WERE QUICK TO POINT TO MARIJUANA. A FOX AFFILIATE IN WEST PALM BEACH,HAS BEEN FEATURING A CAR CRASH WHERE 4 YOUNG PEOPLE WERE KILLED AS LINKED TO POT.(NO PROOF OF IMPAIRMENT. IT HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FACT HE WAS GOING 120 MPH. I NOTICE THIS IS A RECENT TREND ON MEDIA. BLAME IT ON WEED. THIS BATTLE IS FAR FROM OVER.

  34. From all we know about prohibition, a law like this will only result in more people drinking dangerous legal alcohol instead of partaking in safer marijuana. People who drink have a tendency to be more reckless. Marijuana may reduce ones motor skills but it does not impair judgment as does alcohol. A drunk will put the foot down while a toker will drive slower or may even hand over the keys.
    In other words laws like this will be responsible for unnecessary roads deaths. The drug laws force alcoholism and drunken road fatalities on the community.
    The drug laws represent the most callous and irresponsible abuse of government power and will result in the deaths of many and misery for their families and survivors.
    Once again the drug war proves itself to be a crime against humanity.

  35. A little Experiment made by the BBC showing that driving under the influence of cannabis is not as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.

    Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers Than Non-Marijuana Users, New Study Shows

    Marijuana Smoking Associated With Minimal Changes In Driving Performance, Study Finds.

    Experienced Pot Consumers Less Likely To Exhibit Impaired Performance, Study Says

    This study is potentially HUGE! One of the most common attacks on medical marijuana reform is that it will cause an increase in traffic fatalities. Apparently this assertion is dead wrong:

    Med. marijuana laws = 9 percent traffic-death decline, 5 percent beer-sales dip, study finds

    States That Legalized Medical Pot See Decrease In Traffic Fatalities

  36. Frogvie my sepllnig but I somked a jiont a few monhts ago and there sitll msut be smoe THC left indise my bdoy. So all I wnat to say is Mary Fallin shuold go to hel…… aah….. go to hel……oh crap, now I fogort waht I was gonig to say. Never Mnid.

    Shuold have had a beer intesad.

  37. I’m still wondering why laws are not made with the help of Science. I don’t think the lawmakers are living in 2013. I always think about the future and what is going to happen to my children or great great great great great grandchild. They are going to look at the history books and see what really happened in America. It’s a utter shame, of what world we live in.

  38. Paul, the CSA is pretty clear, and they did not make any exemption for alcohol and tobacco; like they did for cocaine because it does have medical uses.

    The CSA does authorize the DEA to write it own laws, the only reason they haven’t target alcohol and tobacco is because that would be unpopular–not illegal under our broken laws.

    [Paul Armentano responds: The CSA classifies specific drugs in specific schedules. Both alcohol and tobacco are unscheduled. End of story.]

  39. I guess what this means is, a person who consumed marijuana two months ago is more of a danger to society than the millions of people who are on the road daily, permanently addicted to pharmaceutical types of pain medication. Who knew?

    Another brain dead politician with her head up her ass.

  40. The CSA is a written document, and like anything written down, people have different interpretations of it. When I read that Schedule 1 drugs are those that are addictive and provide no medical benefit, I don’t need a list written down to tell me that alcohol or tobacco fit that description.

    I’m tired of people acting like robots and saying things like “end of story”. If you guys would just call the government on their BS instead of asking us to write senators that never read our mail or don’t care to read it because they think they are above us, then we could actually get some change around here. Writing letters isn’t gonna cut it. Pay for TV commercials, News stories, hell invite Mr. Drug Czar himself to a nationally televised public debate and call him out. We the people can’t do anything because We the people do not matter.

    [Editor’s note: The truth hurts…but, that does not mean you have to be a jackass. If you think it so easy to end 75 years of federal cannabis prohibition by simply ‘call the govt on their BS instead of asking us to write them’ demonstrates that you’re fairly clueless about passing federal legislation.

    How about this, why don’t you report back to this webpage when you’ve convinced your elected state rep. and senator, your federal member of congress and both senators…and your governor…that cannabis should not be scheduled and treated like alcohol.

    Everyone will be very interested to learn how you made out.]

  41. Meanwhile, a guy who has been drinking all night comes out of the bar at closing time and gets to decide whether or not he is capable of driving.

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