The Difficulties of Designing Technology to Detect Stoned Drivers

The possibility of widespread legalization of marijuana possession appears more likely each passing year, with two states currently conducting large-scale experiments in whether this approach can work acceptably. However, one big issue that supporters of legalization face is the issue of creating legal standards to prohibit individuals under the influence of the drug from operating a vehicle. This is a substantial problem, and one that resists an easy solution.

Some have argued for implementing a law prohibiting driving above a certain ratio of THC per milliliter of blood, with the usual standard being argued for at five nanograms. However, there are a number of problems with this approach. For one, heavy users, such as medical marijuana patients, may have this type of THC blood concentration at all times, even when they aren’t high. Furthermore, testing for it can be difficult: blood tests are problematic and highly invasive.

One innovation, a technology which may be able to detect THC in a user’s blood through testing the sweat in an individual’s fingerprint, is currently being developed in the UK, and may be available for sale in the U.S. by the end of 2013, though it will have to complete FDA approval before law enforcement agencies can use it.

If you have been charged with marijuana possession, make sure to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer today. An attorney will be able to guide you through your case to make sure that you are protected.

Status of Pradaxa Litigation

The lawsuits against the new anticoagulant drug Pradaxa from Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc. have been transferred to multidistrict litigation (MDL) to make the process easier and speedier. Many of the plaintiffs are elderly, which makes speed of the essence, and which is something that one cannot count on when filing a case against big corporations, especially pharmaceutical companies. However, even with the MDL in place, it will still take years before light becomes evident in the tunnel.

The US Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation decided on the transfer on August 8, 2012, naming David R. Herndon as presiding judge and the Southern District of Illinois as the venue for the proceedings. Judge Hendron had presided previously over the MDL concerning Yaz and Yasmin. There are currently 1,617 cases with 1,690 plaintiffs which are now lumped together under MDL No. 2385 (In Re: Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Products Liability Litigation).

The initial conference was held on October 3, 2012, and bellwether cases are scheduled to be established by February 2015. Bellwether cases are representative of a certain number of other cases within the MDL with similar features, and focusing on these cases will avoid duplication of arguments and speed up the process. Nevertheless, plaintiffs can expect to wait a while before any compensation will be forthcoming. The last Status Conference was held on September 18, 2013, and the next one is scheduled for October 8, 2013.

It is still possible to bring a new case for consideration of inclusion into MDL 2385. If you or a family member has been injured or died due to Pradaxa, you may be liable for compensation for the losses, pain and suffering caused by this drug. Contact a products liability lawyer with experience in dealing with pharmaceutical companies and MDL and have your case assessed.

The Weight of the Matter in Cocaine Possession

The penalties for cocaine possession largely depend on the amount of the controlled substance found in your possession and the number of previous offenses, if any. However, it is considered possession with intent to sell or distribute if it is beyond a certain weight, and in such cases even first offenses can result in serious consequences. This is a much more serious case than simple cocaine possession

According to Part I, Title XV, Chapter 94C Section 32E(b) of the Massachusetts General Laws, a person found in possession of cocaine of more than 14 grams may be considered as a drug trafficker regardless of the actual intention of possession. This includes 14 grams or more of substances containing cocaine, so it doesn’t even have to be pure cocaine. Anyone convicted of cocaine possession in the amount of 14 grams or more will be required to serve a minimum of 3 years in prison with a maximum sentence of 15 years, the latter being imposed only when possession exceeds 200 grams. Fines of $2,500 to $50,000 may also be imposed. In general, a conviction will also result in the suspension of the defendant’s driver’s license.

Cocaine possession in Massachusetts, or possession of any Class A or Class B controlled substance for that matter, is a felony no matter what the amount. Cocaine is considered a Class B controlled substance. The mandatory minimum penalties for trafficking apply even for first offenders, so it is important to seek legal counsel immediately if you are charged with trafficking in cocaine. Life-changing penalties can result from a trafficking conviction, and every effort should be made to challenge the particulars of the case with the objective of a more favorable judgement

With the right cocaine possession attorney, you will have access to the resources you need to fully research the details of your case in order to have the charges dismissed or reduced, as well as negotiating with prosecutors.

What is Methamphetamine?

In the United States, methamphetamine is a Schedule II chemical under the Controlled Substances Act. This means that, while methamphetamine has some recognized medical value, it is highly regulated and people who are found to be unlawfully in possession of or manufacturing it are harshly penalized.

To the vast majority of people methamphetamine is not much more than a highly-addictive street drug, but it was originally used as a medication for narcolepsy, alcoholism, depression, and attention deficit disorders. It was first synthesized in a laboratory in 1919, but can now be made just about anywhere.

Methamphetamine is an extreme stimulant. It causes an increase in heart rate and a decrease in appetite alongside feelings of euphoria and heightened alertness. However, it has a host of negative side effects, including:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Acne
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Excessive sweating

Many of these effects worsen with increased and prolonged use. Methamphetamine is highly addictive, so many people struggle to fight their attachment to the drug. Withdrawal symptoms such as depression make it difficult to kick a meth addiction, since addicts quickly realize that they are much “happier” when they are high.

Testing for Drugs Using Breath

Alcohol testing of allegedly impaired drivers is typically carried out by breathalyzer examination. Breathalyzers are rather easy to use and noninvasive. Why not apply the same standard for drug testing?

Unless an expensive hair or fingernail test is ordered, conventional drug tests require blood or urine. However, researchers at Sweden’s leading medical university, the Karolinska Institutet, have found success in testing for drugs through an individual’s breath.

They’ve created a system called SensAbues that they claim can produce reliable, court-defensible drug tests using an individual’s breath. The system comes with an encasement, a bag, and a seal. A person who is being tested breathes into the bag, which is attached to the encasement, 20 times. Cells from his or her airway linings are evacuated into the the bag. If there were drugs present, these cells will contain indicators that tell scientists which illicit substance was used. The test can detect most drugs for up to a few days after the last use.

The downside is that each sample, which is sealed in the encasement shortly after being taken to avoid being tampered with, must be sent to a laboratory for the actual testing phase. This takes time and is a departure from alcohol breathalyzers, which return results immediately.