No, not 502 as in “deuce,” section 502 of the pre-1970s California Vehicle Code, if you’re old enough to remember that and unfortunate enough to have had any direct or indirect involvement with drunk driving.

This time it’s Initiative 502, on the Washington ballot, which asks Washington voters whether recreational use of marijuana for people over 21 should be legalized.fillfillfillfillfillfillfillfillfillfilll fillfill
An article in the current Time magazine reiterates many of the same issues we’ve been discussing at home. On the one hand, one line of thinking runs that passing the initiative, even though flawed, would be a significant and long overdue step forward and away from the obviously failed policies of criminalization and interdiction. The initiative of course includes controls and sets limits. With the state controlling production and distribution and gaining revenue from the industry, it would be analogous to the liquor industry.

On the other hand, some among the advocates of legalized marijuana oppose 502 because it so imprecisely defines who might or might not be under the influence of the drug, thereby, say some, giving law enforcement a new means they do not now have to harass or arrest marijuana smokers. Specifically, the initiative says that if you have 5 nanograms of THC in your blood you’re too stoned to drive legally, just as a .08 blood alcohol level defines when someone is too drunk to drive legally. The problem is that alcohol in the blood goes away in a matter of hours, but THC in the blood can remain for days.

In other words, you could smoke a joint at a party on Saturday and get a ride home afterward, then driving home from work on Tuesday, long after you would be in any way functionally affected by the joint you smoked on Saturday, get stopped and THC tested and come up as DUI.

So the more interesting question to come out of this is: When is it better to do what you can when you can to drag mainstream society kicking and screaming down the avenue of progress toward a change that is inevitable even if the first cut at the law contains imperfections, and when is it better to reject the imperfectly cast law despite the opportunity to make a progressive step, in favor of holding steady for the time being and recasting a better proposal that is not so open to abuse at the hands of less-than-objective officials?

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