Potheads: Try to Remember Not to Take Your Stash to Court
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Potheads: Try to Remember Not to Take Your Stash to Court


Let’s Leave Pot at Home, Shall We?

From the boneheaded decision file comes news of a Connecticut native who was arrested after bringing marijuana and other pot paraphernalia to a courthouse. Yet it turns out he’s not the only one who has found marijuana resulting in their clean criminal record going up in smoke.

Richard Thompson, 32, arrived in court to address charges from last May of driving under the influence, driving with a suspended license and having pot in his car. He had all of the essentials when going through security—like his ID, 50 grams of pot and two packages of rolling papers. The same officer who had arrested him on previous charges that spring promptly arrested Thompson on marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges. It was like a big happy reunion, only not at all.

Let’s be honest: Thompson deserved to be arrested again, not for having pot on him, but for being a dumbass. Although driving while high is a clear no-no, most pot smokers who enter a drug court aren’t putting others at risk. Hell, they could probably barely get it together to order a pizza.

Does the Punishment Fit the Crime?

Judge John A. Frusciante (no relation, as far as we know, to the former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist), who operates the special marijuana court in Broward County in South Florida, argued that if people are using pot to the point that they’re getting arrested, “something is wrong.” Still, plenty of people are required to appear in drug court for driving while sober and with pot in their car, or for smoking it a concert or outdoor festival.

Part of the issue also lies in the fact that unlike alcohol, which has a specific number (.08) to determine whether a person is drunk while driving, pot doesn’t have those same quantitative measures. In most states, driving while high amounts to a zero-tolerance policy. Blood tests in Washington and Colorado have set a number of five nanograms per milliliter, while a bill in California (that ultimately failed last May) proposed DUI charges for a test recording two nanograms per milliliter.

However, medical marijuana advocates argue that unlike other substances, pot stays in your system for up to several weeks after the last usage. And while it’s easy to determine the alcohol content of a beer since it’s right on the label, marijuana products offer wide ranges of potency. Los Angeles now has a federal grant to try out oral swabs as a roadside drug test for pot, which will likely make its way to California highways by early next year.

But with a roadside study conducted earlier this year in California finding that seven percent of drivers had marijuana in their system, this is an issue that literally affects millions of people. Having a specific number that determines what exactly is too high to drive won’t make everyone happy, but it will eliminate arbitrary decisions on the subject and remove the possibility of a police officer’s power trip putting someone behind bars. With marijuana rapidly on its way to becoming legal in more states, it’s essential that we move beyond an archaic zero-tolerance policy.

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About Author

McCarton Ackerman is a writer and editor living in New York City. His work has been featured in Time Out New York, The Advocate, USOpen.org and The Daily Mail. He can also been seen performing stand-up comedy at bars and clubs around the city.