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Originally published Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM

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Medical-marijuana patients fear effects of new law on driving

Passage of Initiative 502 is a concern to some medical-marijuana patients because it established restrictions for driving under the influence of pot.

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If you're a MMJ user and pulled over, relax. Unless you were smoking within the past... MORE
Funny, I don't remember hearing a lot of complaining over the old law. You know, when... MORE
@Jim, you and this article are spreading misinformation. URINE tests test for the pres... MORE

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KENNEWICK — Tri-Cities medical-marijuana patients are worried the passage of Initiative 502 will mean the end of their ability to legally drive.

While the law is silent on medical-marijuana patients, it does set a level for driving under the influence of marijuana that many patients are concerned they cannot meet. Kennewick's Hippies store co-owner Tim Adams said the DUI provision caused him and other medical-marijuana patients to vote against the new law.

Adams is permanently disabled, with a back and shoulder injury that developed from vertebrae broken when he was a child. He said marijuana is a much better option than pills he has been prescribed.

Prescription pills, Adams said, will put him on the couch for days with severe side effects, while marijuana allows him to continue his everyday life. Medical marijuana alleviates some of the pain and allows him to take the pills that doctors prescribe without suffering nauseating side effects.

The DUI provisions mean someone would have to wait for four to five weeks after smoking marijuana to be sure they would pass the blood test, he said.

The body releases toxins in waves, so that limit may still be in the bloodstream, even though the person does not feel any effects, Adams said.

Other than the DUI provision, not much should change for medical-marijuana patients.

Patients still have the rights they did under state law before I-502, said Mikhail Carpenter, a state Liquor Control Board spokesman.

Although a 2011 state law authorizes collective gardens for medical-marijuana patients, the Tri-Cities do not allow them.

I-502 will not affect Richland and Kennewick's moratoriums on collective gardens, officials say.

The Kennewick City Council will discuss collective gardens at its meeting Monday.

Richland's moratorium will expire in six months, and West Richland's expired earlier this year, officials said.

The Pasco City Council decided to ban medical-marijuana gardens in June and amended the city zoning code to state that the city won't allow anything that violates local, state or federal law.

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