California Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws2261 Market St. #278A, S.F., CA 94114 – www.canorml.org – (415) 563-5858 / (510) 540-1066
Jan 3, 2017Sen. Jerry HillCalifornia State SenateSacramento CA 95814Dear Sen. Hill:
We appreciate the need for your bill to clarify the penalty for smoking or using marijuana while driving, as proposed in SB 65. Prop. 64 inadvertently failed to specify a penalty for this offense in HSC 11362.4, although clearly stating that it should not be permitted in HSC 11362.3(a)4
The appropriate penalty for this offense should be an infraction, the same as mandated for possession of an open container of marijuana under HSC 11362.4 (b). Use of marijuana while driving was also an infraction prior to Prop. 64, when it was punished under VC 23222(b) as “possession while driving.” This has been a non-arrestable offense ever since marijuana was decriminalized by the Moscone Act in 1976
This being the case, we cannot support increasing the penalty for use while driving to an alternative criminal misdemeanor or woblette. To do so would constitute an increase in marijuana penalties, which is not in accord with Prop 64 and would require a 2/3 vote. While we appreciate that SB 65 also increases drinking while driving to a woblette, we would point out that the scientific research shows that marijuana is clearly not as dangerous as alcohol behind the wheel, and much less dangerous than distracted driving due to use of a cell phone, the penalty for which would remain a minor infraction under SB 65.
Insofar as you are rightly proposing to clarify the laws on marijuana and driving, we also recommend that VC 23222(b) be repealed. This section is now obsolete, insofar as it outlaws any possession of marijuana while driving, even in a properly sealed container. This contradicts section 11362.1 (a)2 of Prop 64, which clearly authorizes the transport of one ounce of marijuana provided it’s not being used and not in an open container. In order to prevent confusion by law enforcement, this section should be repealed.