Assemblywoman Norma Torres’ Misguided Bill On Driving with Pot in your System

It seems Assembly member Norma Torres (D-Pomona) has a double standard on public safety. As mayor of Pomona she was reluctant about driver’s license checkpoints in her city, but being uninsured and unlicensed is also a public safety hazard in our communities and our state which also could lead to property damage and bodily injury or death.

Now recently she has introduced a bill AB 2552 with little notice that will make driving with any marijuana in your body even if you are sober as an equivalent to “driving under the influence”. I can understand that due to her time as an emergency dispatcher she believes she is the paragon of public safety. Unfortunately taking marijuana is not like drinking beer where it leaves the system after several days. This bill states that if you have any cannabis based compound you would not be allowed to drive. Unfortunately even if you are sober, marijuana still stays in one’s system for up to a month. Hence the bill will just help clog up the judicial system and prevent people from making a living when their driving privilege gets restricted.

I am not here to excuse buzzed driving, if a police officer believes one is not concentrating properly and driving erratically like a drunk driver then yes, punish the individual. However, if Norma wants to promote public safety then she should work with physiologists to think of a fair level of marijuana in one’s system such as a young driver who might have taken some cold medicine that might have traces of alcohol as a compromise. Maybe it might take a progressive like Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Fransisco) to set Norma on the right track.

I highly recommend that our assemblywoman and her legislative director pull this bill and revise it so it does not reek of Reefer Madness.  Unfortunately, according to the SF Weekly’s article about this bill, she has received donations from the liquor and the law enforcement industries which both have marijuana as their mortal enemies, and this was likely her inspiration to write the bill.

Luckily this June, Norma will have three opponents running against her in the top two primary school board member Paul Vincent Avila from Ontario, Ray Moors Norma’s 2010 opponent from Chino and Ken Coble a Pomona planning commissioner. Norma should also understand what happened to Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley in the 2010 election; he lost his election due to marijuana campaigners either voting Libertarian or Democratic Party because he was not going to defend marijuana legalization initiative Proposition 19 if it won.

With this legislation, we see that Democratic Party legislators can be as authoritarian as Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum can be. If I wanted to vote for a Democratic Party legislator I would want them to protect my personal liberties in the choice of who I want to love and what drug I would like to partake in while taking as much taxes as they can for public services. If Democrats want to behave like stereotypical Republicans, then I would rather vote for the real thing or vote for a third party.

Perhaps Norma and her allies believe we can solve the state’s budget crisis thru Marijuana prohibition. Just as how drunk drivers get their cars impounded or auctioned off, we will have a new class of individuals to extort money from. Maybe weed enthusiasts can get more of their fix with the money savings from public transportation.

About Matt Munson