Letter: Federal law classifies pot as illegal



The Dec. 6 Columbian story “Get the straight dope on what’s legal, not as law takes effect,” about the legality of the use of marijuana contains misleading statements. Two of them are: “Initiative 502 makes the possession and use of one ounce of marijuana legal for those 21 and older” and “Initiative 502 makes it legal to use marijuana in private, not in a public place such as a park or on the street.” The initiative changes the Washington law prohibiting marijuana. The state initiative has no affect on the federal law which classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 controlled substance which prohibits its use, possession and sale.

“Anyone operating a car under the influence of marijuana will be arrested” is also misleading. A test for the blood level of THC, tetrahydrocannabinol, that a police officer can administer upon stopping a suspected driver such as the Breathalyzer test for alcohol is not available.

The test requires a blood sample be submitted to a laboratory for analysis. The results are not immediately available. It would not be practical to arrest and bring in all suspected drivers, some of whom would be not guilty. Most people operating a car under the influence of marijuana will not be arrested.

David Rand