8 Sept 14

“The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.”

Humphrey Bogart

Drugs and guns, lessons for all of us:

I’m afraid Humphrey’s world is just a distant memory!

Recreational marijuana is now “legal” in CO, at least under state law. Medical marijuana has been legal here since 2000, and is legal in many other states. Federal law still bans marijuana in most circumstances, but federal laws prohibiting marijuana possession and use are, at least under the current Administration, largely unenforced.

Beverages containing ethyl alcohol, while highly regulated, are still legal everywhere, except within some Indian Reservations.

Certain prescription drugs, mostly pain medications and anti-depressants, are liberally prescribed and also generally available. Many have consciousness-altering effects, similar to ethyl alcohol and marijuana, and, in fact, carry labels advising users not to drive, nor operate machinery, after taking them.

Degrees of impairment associated with consumption of ethyl alcohol are well established and easily measured. Not so with marijuana. Reliable tests may be developed in the future, but none exist now. Be that as it may, at present the smell of marijuana emanating from a motor vehicle will garner instant and intense law-enforcement attention, as will the smell of ethyl alcohol on the breath of drivers. Outcomes in both cases are generally unpleasant, no matter what state you’re in!

We do know that non-impairing levels of marijuana exposure, when combined with an otherwise non-impairing dose of ethyl alcohol, will result in far greater impairment than either substance by itself. The combination thus represents a real hazard!

Best advice to those who choose to use marijuana recreationally is to not be gun-owners. Marihuana and guns, particularly military rifles, should not be together in the same house, nor in the same car. When your house and/or car smell like marijuana, and there are also guns present, the outcome, once more, will not be a happy one!

When you’re involved in a self-defense shooting, or even a self-defense brandishing incident where no bullets are actually launched, and even when the incident takes place in your own home, any level of ethyl alcohol, or marijuana, or consciousness-altering prescription drugs in your body will be anything but helpful to your case during the subsequent investigation.

Best advice is to have no bad habits (drinking, smoking, other drug-use) at all, but I realize that applies to only a small percentage of the population!

So, what if an otherwise good, law-abiding person enjoys a beer or two, or a glass of wine, with dinner, then promptly goes to bed, and later that same night has a legitimate need to have a defensive gun in his hand?

That behavior will likely be viewed as illegal and/or inherently negligent by our justice system! Thus, even those gun-owners who only drink, or smoke marijuana, just before going to bed are in an untenable position, and I see no good answer, short of blanket, all-inclusive abstinence.

In fact, forensic blood-draws will soon be integral to every shooting investigation, where they are not already!

When there is a strong real-time connection between drinking, and/or marijuana use, and a firearm, particularly one that has discharged and caused injury and/or property damage, the person who pulled the trigger is going to have a real problem and will likely be facing a substantial prison term, regardless of “intent,” and most other extenuating/mitigating factors. That was the original purpose behind firearms/drugs-enhanced sentencing rules.

Far be it from me to tell people what to do!

Like your lawyer, I’m just trying my best to lay-out what facts there are, so you can make informed and intelligent personal decisions.

There are a million mine-fields in this civilization, and smart people know how to be careful. Who aren’t and don’t can look forward to short and unhappy lives. What they shouldn’t expect is sympathy!

“‘Luck’ is not chance. It’s toil! Fortune’s expensive smile is earned.”

Emily Dickinson