Cannabis sales must avoid mistakes made by alcohol deregulation

University of Alberta professor Dr. Elaine Hyshka says the Alberta government needs to make sure it sets proper regulations for looming cannabis legalization.

University of Alberta professor Dr. Elaine Hyshka says the Alberta government needs to make sure it sets proper regulations for looming cannabis legalization. (The Canadian Press)

As the province begins developing a framework for legalizing cannabis, a University of Alberta doctor said she hopes Alberta learns from past mistakes with alcohol deregulation.

Dr. Elaine Hyshka said the government has some decisions to make before legalization takes place on July 1.

“I’ll be watching to see how government maintains control over things like price, advertising and marketing, the density of outlets and other factors that really are critical for really trying to encourage moderate use,” Hyshka told CBC’s Radio Active Wednesday.

Hyshka is speaking at the University of Alberta Thursday about what the Cannabis Act means for Canadians. The presentation at 5 p.m. will be livestreamed on their website.

She said Alberta’s cannabis price point can’t be so low people are encouraged to use it, nor can it be so high that users turn to the black market for cheaper prices.

Ontario has proposed a $10 per gram price, which, with the proposed federal tax plan, would cost $11 in Alberta. A mid-level dealer in Calgary told CBC News in October that he typically sells for anywhere between $6 and $8 a gram.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci has rejected the federal cannabis tax plan and the Alberta government has not set a price yet.

Hyshka said she’ll also be watching how many stores selling cannabis will be allowed in a particular area. She said the amount of liquor stores on every corner, some of which are open until 2 a.m., is a mistake the government shouldn’t repeat.

Elaine Hyshka

Hyshka says restrictions should be placed on marketing and advertising cannabis. (CBC )

“Although cannabis as a substance is less harmful than alcohol, we’d be wanting to see some new restrictions put in place that really set the standard for how we regulate psychoactive substances,” she said.

She also hopes marketing of the product is restricted to prevent influencing a new generation of cannabis users.

“[Hopefully, we] don’t go out of the way to stimulate a new market or stimulate a new demand for what is not a harmless substance,” she said.

Cannabis still ‘liberally available’

Hyshka said that though there are documented benefits of cannabis, such as for those in chronic pain, that doesn’t mean it isn’t harmful — or, in the case of impaired driving, dangerous.

But she said concerns raised recently by the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police about impaired driving, while valid, are not new.

“It’s important to remember that cannabis is liberally available right now through the illegal market and many people are using it and some people are driving while impaired,” she said.

“Enforcing cannabis impaired driving or other sorts of infractions is not new.”

But Hyshka and the police chiefs place importance on a common, primary goal: discouraging those who don’t use cannabis from starting.

“I think that’s a main objective,” she said. “[And] if you are going to engage in cannabis use, how can you do so responsibly in a way that is going to try to, as much as possible, protect your health.”

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/cannabis-marketing-advertising-legalization-1.4415063

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regs

OTTAWA — Health Canada offered hints Tuesday about the government’s plans for legal pot, including, plain packaging and stern, stark health warnings like those found on tobacco products.

The department released a set of proposed regulations that, among other things, would limit colours and graphics on cannabis packs and establish a system to trace pot through the distribution system.

It said the warnings should highlight risks, including the dangers associated with cannabis use during pregnancy, drug-impaired driving and what can happen when alcohol is mixed with marijuana.

The department’s so-called consultation paper is now open to public feedback for the next two months.

Speaking outside the House of Commons, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said the government is studying other proposals including a tracking system to monitor the cannabis supply chain and help prevent pot being diverted into and out of the legal market.

Health Canada also said Tuesday the proposals seek to elaborate on elements including what can be displayed on a package and what can’t, including anything that might entice youngsters.

“Text and graphics used in brand elements could not be appealing to youth and would be subject to the packaging and labelling restrictions in the proposed Cannabis Act,” the department said.

“Health Canada is also considering establishing standards (such as limiting use of colour and size) of these brand elements.”

Government officials said late Tuesday the proposals attempt to elaborate on what can be displayed on a package to ensure the legal industry can keep itself distinct from the black market, while competing with it.

Producers would be allowed to display brand elements, the officials confirmed, saying they are talking to legal producers about packaging.

The officials also said Health Canada sees its plans as consistent with what the federally appointed task force on pot legalization recommended: plain and standard packaging.

The proposed regulations would also require that cannabis workers get valid security clearances issued by the minister of health. Individuals with connections to organized crime, or criminal records or shady associates could be denied clearances.

Earlier Tuesday, Statistics Canada said it plans to start measuring the economic and social impacts of recreational pot — even before it becomes legal.

The agency said it wants to gradually develop the capabilities to capture and report information on non-medical cannabis.

It says collecting data both before and after marijuana becomes legal will allow Canadians, governments and businesses to form a clearer picture of the economic and social consequences of lawful pot.

The Liberals also faced criticism from the opposition Tuesday for limiting debate on their cannabis legislation, which is currently before the House of Commons.

Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould defended the move, saying the government has long been up front with the House and with Canadians about the plan to legalize pot by July 2018.

Health warnings, plain covers for pot packs under proposed regs

Many People Don’t Seem To Know That Taking Prescription Drugs Could Impair Their Driving

More than 45 million Americans will travel by car over the Thanksgiving holiday, AAA predicts, and a new study suggests that about one out of five of those behind the wheel will have taken a prescription drug that could impair their driving.

On top of that, many of them aren’t aware of the risk.

The study authors used data from the most recent National Roadside Survey (NRS), conducted in 2013-2014 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, to determine what proportion of drivers had been warned that the medication their doctor prescribed could impair their performance. Data were collected from randomly selected drivers at 60 different U.S. locations.

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Drivers 16 and older were eligible to participate in the voluntary, anonymous survey about alcohol and drug use. Those who agreed to be surveyed were also asked to provide a breath sample to measure alcohol content and a saliva sample for drug testing.

The 2013-2014 NRS was the second to ask drivers about drug use but the first to ask whether the drug had been prescribed for them and, if so, whether they’d been warned that it could impair their driving. Those who reported taking a prescribed, potentially impairing medication within the previous two days were then asked if they had been warned that it could affect their driving.

These are the categories of potentially impairing prescription drugs covered by the survey and some examples of them:

  • Antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Wellbutrin).
  • Methadone and buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone), opioids that are used in medication-assisted treatment of substance use disorders.
  • Morphine or codeine, which are prescription opioids for pain.
  • Other prescription opioids (OxyContin and Vicodin), also used to treat pain.
  • Barbiturates (phenobarbital).
  • Benzodiazepines, which are tranquilizers (Xanax and Valium).
  • Muscle relaxants (Soma and Flexeril).
  • Sleep aids (Ambien and Lunesta).
  • ADHD medications (Ritalin, Aderall and Concerta).
  • Other amphetamines (Benzadrine and Dexedrine).
  • Prescription diet pills (Tenuate and phentermine).

Except for the last three types of drugs, the medications on this list could impair drivers by sedating them. Experimental studies have shown that certain tranquilizers have a substantially higher risk of impairment than alcohol and that opioids have a risk comparable to that of alcohol, the researchers write.

On the other hand, ADHD medications and other amphetamines as well as prescription diet pills are stimulants, which can influence attention, aggressiveness and risk-taking, the study authors write. You likely won’t fall asleep behind the wheel if you take a stimulant, but you could end up taking unnecessary risks while driving.

A total of 7,405 drivers answered the prescription drug questions on the NRS, and 19.7% of them reported taking a potentially impairing prescription drug within the previous two days. Of those who had, four out of five of them, or 78.2%, to be exact, said the drug had been prescribed for them, so there had been an opportunity for a physician or a pharmacist to talk about the risk of impaired driving.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ritarubin/2017/11/21/many-people-dont-seem-to-know-that-taking-prescription-drugs-could-impair-their-driving/#26429d5e35c4

Man arrested, alleged to have had over 1 lb. of marijuana, DUID

A Fort Collins, Colorado man is facing charges of felony Possession of a Controlled Substance- Marijuana in Natrona County, after Troopers say they found over a pound of marijuana in his vehicle.According to court paperwork 33-year-old Ira Whitney was taken into custody, during the late night hours of November 16th.

Highway Patrol Troopers say that Whitney was observed driving a black Pontiac G6, on I-25, near milepost 184. Reports say that the Pontiac was observed going 90 mph, in a posted 80 mph zone.

Troopers say that they further observed the Pontiac fail to maintain it’s lane of travel while driving.

A stop was initiated and an arrest affidavit says that when the Pontiac pulled over it struck the curb, and the driver stopped the car with the vehicle’s front passenger tire parked on the curb.

Troopers contacted Whitney and note that they could smell an odor of marijuana and alcohol about the suspect’s person. Troopers also report seeing a black canister labeled “THC,” and a multi-colored glass pipe with suspected marijuana in the bowl. The affidavit says that both the canister and the pipe were in plain view on the passenger seat.

When questioned, Troopers say that Whitney admitted to having a gram of marijuana in the vehicle, and saying that his last drink had been a rum and cola, at a bar in Fort Collins, two hours before the stop. Whitney further advised that he worked at the bar.

Whitney was taken into custody, and a subsequent search of the vehicle yielded an open Bud Light bottle that was described as “cool to the touch,” found in between the passenger seat and center console. Further, Troopers report finding a six pack of Bud Light in the car, with two of the bottles removed.

In the trunk of the vehicle Troopers discovered approximately 1.2 pounds of suspected marijuana, divided up between four separately packaged vacuum sealed bags.

After a field sobriety test, Whitney was placed under arrest just after midnight.

During his initial appearance in Natrona County Circuit Court, Whitney was charged with Felony Possession of Marijuana and Driving While Under the Influence. Whitney’s bond was set at $10,000 cash or surety.

All of those cited or arrested are presumed innocent until convicted in a court of law. Charges are subject to change following official filings from the Natrona County District Attorney’s Office.

https://oilcitywyo.com/

Medical-marijuana doctor arrested

Medical-marijuana doctor arrested
Dr. Richard J. D’Amico

PLATTSBURGH — The only physician in Clinton County authorized to prescribe medical marijuana has been charged with driving while under the influence of drugs.

Dr. Richard D’Amico, 48, of Plattsburgh was arrested Friday, Nov. 10, and charged with driving while his ability was impaired by drugs, a misdemeanor, after a traffic stop on the downtown stretch of Margaret Street.

Plattsburgh City Police Lt. Bradley Kiroy said a plainclothes police officer reported to Plattsburgh City Police that he saw D’Amico park his car and get out and that he was visibly intoxicated.

When officers arrived around 9:54 p.m., D’Amico was pulling out of the parking space and heading north on Margaret Street.

They saw him swerve from his lane without using his turn signal, Kiroy said.

Police pulled D’Amico over and had a blood test performed.

“The results of the test have not been returned,” Kiroy said.

Besides the DWAI charge, D’Amico was ticketed for failure to keep right on a two-lane road and failure to use his turning signal.

He was held and then arraigned the next morning in Plattsburgh City Court before Judge Mark Rogers, then released on his own recognizance.

D’Amico could not be reached for comment Friday. His lawyer, Patrick McFarlin, said his client had no comment on the arrest.

D’Amico is due back in court on Thursday, Dec. 21.

http://www.pressrepublican.com/news/local_news/medical-marijuana-doctor-arrested/article_826ecbba-3e59-5f3c-8274-05a46832984d.html

Driving While Stoned: The Penalties and Gray Area in Marijuana Law

smoking a joint

As of November 2017, some 29 states had legalized marijuana for medicinal use. By 2018, eight of those states will allow the recreational use of pot, too. Add in the millions of Americans who smoke weed illegally and you have a small army of stoned individuals hanging out in public at all hours.

At your local bar or drum circle, that’s not a problem. On the other hand, when driving your kids home from school, you don’t want to run into a guy who just took a round of bong hits. Likewise, marijuana users need to know the risks they face if they get behind the wheel high. State penalties for stoned driving are mostly as harsh as they are for drunk driving. Nothing kills a buzz like 120 days without your license or $1,500 in fines.

However, there is no “pot breathalyzer” yet, and officers usually need special training necessary to otherwise judge intoxication via weed. Overall, confusion reigns, and the arrests of people who hadn’t used marijuana before driving have made the situation worse. Here’s what everyone needs to know about pot and driving, down to the gray areas in the law.

1. The risks of driving while high

While there is agreement among scientists that driving under the influence of marijuana creates a more dangerous situation, there is no consensus of just how much danger. A 2016 paper from the Society for the Study of Addiction found the increase in crash risk “of low to medium magnitude.” That assessment scaled back some of the hyperventilating following the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Even government agencies have a hard time saying how marijuana affects motorists. In February 2015, NHTSA released a study on alcohol and drug use among drivers. Once again, they found clear evidence of impairment among drunk drivers, down to the degree. Drug users proved harder to gauge. “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment,” the report concluded.

Source: Driving While Stoned: The Penalties and Gray Area in Marijuana Law

Police to begin roadside drug testing pilot program Nov. 8

(WXYZ) – In an effort to combat the dangers of drugged driving, five Michigan counties will participate in a one-year oral fluid roadside drug testing pilot program by Michigan State Police.

The counties include Berrien, Delta, Kent, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties.

The Preliminary Oral Fluid Analysis pilot program will establish policies for the administration of roadside drug testing to determine whether an individual is operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance.

Over the last several years, Michigan has seen a steady increase in fatal crashes involving drivers impaired by drugs. In 2016, there were 236 drug-involved traffic fatalities.

“Motorists under the influence of drugs pose a risk to themselves and others on the road,” said MSP Director Col. Kriste Etue. “With drugged driving on the rise, law enforcement officers need an effective tool to assist in making these determinations during a traffic stop.”

The counties were chosen based on criteria including number of impaired driving crashed, impaired drivers arrested and trained Drug Recognition Experts in the county.

Under the pilot program, a DRE may require a person to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis to detect the presence of a controlled substance in the person’s body if they suspect the driver is impaired by drugs.

Refusal to submit to a preliminary oral fluid analysis upon lawful demand of a police officer is a civil infraction.

http://www.wxyz.com/news/michigan-state-police-to-begin-roadside-drug-testing-pilot-program-nov-8

Many prescription drug users not aware of driving-related risks

A large portion of patients taking prescription drugs that could affect driving may not be aware they could potentially be driving impaired, according to research in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Nearly 20 percent of people in the study reported recent use of a prescription medication with the potential for impairment, but not all said they were aware that the medication could affect their driving, despite the potential for receiving warnings from their doctor, their pharmacist, or the medication label itself.

The percentages of those who said they had received a warning from one of those sources varied by type of medication: 86 percent for sedatives, 85 percent for narcotics, 58 percent for stimulants, and 63 percent for antidepressants.

In the report, researchers used data from the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey, which asked drivers randomly selected at 60 sites across the United States questions about drug use, including prescription drugs. A total of 7,405 drivers completed the prescription drug portion of the survey.

Although it is unclear if the study participants actually received the warnings, or if they did receive the warnings but didn’t retain the information, the authors say this scenario is in need of further research.

“We were very surprised that our study was the first we could find on this topic,” says lead researcher Robin Pollini, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the Injury Control Research Center at West Virginia University. “It’s a pretty understudied area, and prescription drugs are a growing concern.”

In this study, the type of medication in question was also related to drivers’ perceptions about their impairment risk. They were most likely to think that sleep aids were the most likely to affect safe driving, followed by morphine/codeine, other amphetamines, and muscle relaxants. Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications were viewed as least likely to affect driving risk. Sleep aids were also viewed as the most likely to cause an accident or result in criminal charges, and ADHD medications were viewed as the least likely.

Pollini says she hopes this research will lead to increased warnings provided by doctors and pharmacists, as well as improved labeling for medications that are likely to impair driving. She says it’s not yet clear what the optimum messaging would be. But she is encouraged by the fact that patients who are prescribed these medications have several points at which they could receive this important information.

“The vast majority of drivers who are recent users of prescription drugs that have the potential for impairment have come into contact with a physician, a pharmacist, and a medication label,” says Pollini. “There’s an opportunity here that’s not being leveraged: to provide people with accurate information about what risks are associated with those drugs. People can then make informed decisions about whether they’re able to drive.”

A related commentary by Benedikt Fischer, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, and colleagues expresses concern that increased warnings and interventions may be insufficient to reduce the chances of driving while impaired. These authors point to the issue of alcohol-impaired driving to suggest that only deterrence-based measures–such as roadside testing, license suspensions, and increased insurance premiums–have the potential to change behavior.

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To arrange an interview with Robin Pollini, Ph.D., M.P.H., please contact Kimberly Becker at 304.293.1699 or Kimberly.Becker@hsc.wvu.edu.

Pollini, R. A., Waehrer, G., & Kelley-Baker, T. (November 2017). Receipt of warnings regarding potentially impairing prescription medications and associated risk perceptions in a national sample of U.S. drivers. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 78(6), 805-813. doi:10.15288/jsad.2017.78.805

Fischer, B., Fidalgo, T., & Varatharajan, T. (November 2017). Reflections on Pollini et al. (2017)–Implications for interventions for driving while using psychotropic medications with impairment risk. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 78(6), 814-816. doi:10.15288/jsad.2017.78.814

The Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs is published by the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. It is the oldest substance-related journal published in the United States.

To learn about education and training opportunities for addiction counselors and others at the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, please visit AlcoholStudiesEd.rutgers.edu.

Source: Many prescription drug users not aware of driving-related risks | EurekAlert! Science News

Safety-related impacts of recreational marijuana legalization

Safety-related impacts of recreational marijuana legalizationBy Contributing Writer – October 27, 2017198 0Share on Facebook Tweet on Twitter In addition to the economic and health impacts of marijuana legalization (previous articles at uccseconomicforum.com/publications_media.shtml or at csbj.com), another important dimension to consider are the safety impacts. This would include traffic-related fatalities and other serious traffic incidents, seizures (or confiscation) of illegal or over-the-limit marijuana product, diversion of Colorado marijuana to other states where it is illegal, property and violent crime rates, and homelessness. Although not an exhaustive list of safety-related metrics, these are good indicators of how our broader community is being affected by the legalization of recreational marijuana. This article will cover traffic-related metrics and the final article will discuss other safety-related metrics.Much like the other dimensions related to tracking the effects of legalization, it is important to note that safety data is somewhat compromised by two factors. One, there is typically at least a one- to two-year lag in the availability of safety-related data, and recreational marijuana only became legal and available for retail sale in 2014. Two, given that recreational marijuana was previously illegal, our state did not have a robust methodology for systematically collecting information on marijuana-related crime nor methods for testing drivers for tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana. Nonetheless, some meaningful information is beginning to emerge.To begin, measuring drivers for THC is challenging because its effects peak very soon after consumption, then begin to fall rather quickly, although lower levels of THC stay in the system for quite a while. By the time a crash has happened and a person gets tested, THC levels may be dramatically lower than when the crash occurred. Likewise, a low level of THC can remain in someone’s system many hours after consumption, complicating a true measure of impairment levels. Further clouding the issue is that marijuana-impaired drivers are often also drinking alcohol. Testing for driving under the influence of alcohol is easier and more mainstream, so many officers do not go beyond a positive DUI reading even if they suspect marijuana use. It is noteworthy that 36 percent of all drivers in Colorado involved in a fatal car crash who did test positive for THC had also consumed alcohol (CDOT). As discussed in an earlier article, the cross sensitization of alcohol and marijuana makes the effects of both together greater than the sum of each individually.The graph below shows the increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths in the past 10 years in Colorado (up 279 percent). In terms of the proportion of total traffic-related fatalities, in 2009, marijuana impairment was involved in 9 percent of fatalities; by 2016, 21 percent of fatalities involved marijuana impairment. This data may seriously under represent the attribution of marijuana impairment in traffic deaths, however, because only 44 percent of cadavers from traffic deaths have toxicology testing for marijuana. It is noteworthy that also in the last 10 years, population has increased 17 percent, and all traffic deaths increased 16 percent. If we examine DUIDs (driving under the influence of drugs), but not fatalities, the number of positive toxicology screens for marijuana rose 63 percent in the pre-legalization period (2009-2012) compared to the post-legalization period (2013-2016). Out of 1,004 DUIDs in 2016, 76 percent involved marijuana and another substance, and 38 percent involved marijuana only.A 2010 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Report estimated that the total economic costs for a vehicular fatality were $1.4 million including property damage, medical costs, insurance costs, lost productivity and other factors. The economic costs of the 125 traffic fatalities involving marijuana in Colorado in 2016 would have been approximately $175 million. The estimated cost of a DUID in the same 2010 NHTSA report was $10,270. If we conservatively use that dated amount and apply it to the number of known DUIDs in 2016, the cost in Colorado was approximately $7.9 million. If we juxtapose these two traffic-related costs to collected marijuana taxes, the costs outweigh the benefits by several million dollars (see table).These rough estimations do not consider the fatalities or other incidents that are marijuana related but not captured via toxicology testing. Nor does this one estimate encapsulate the other various costs associated with safety or health-related impacts. What this data does show us is the importance of comprehensively examining both the revenue and cost implications of legalization. Although we are now almost four full years into recreational legalization, and it is not likely that the legal status will change, we can use the information to

Source: Safety-related impacts of recreational marijuana legalization

Parish president says he was not impaired

Larry Cochran mug
St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran, via Kenner Police Department

St. Charles Parish President Larry Cochran claims he was not impaired when he was pulled over by police while driving in Kenner last month and that he has prescriptions for the drugs found in his system afterward, his attorney said Thursday.

The lawyer, Wiley Beevers, said that Cochran likely appeared unsteady during a field sobriety test at the time of his arrest because of a childhood surgery in which he had a benign tumor removed from his right ear. The surgery has affected his balance to this day, said Beevers, who provided a doctor’s note explaining the surgery.

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For weeks, Cochran has been under pressure from other parish officials to explain his arrest. He was pulled over the morning of Sept. 2, and while he had no detectable alcohol in his system he tested positive for a combination of prescription pain killers.

Beevers said Cochran is prepared to prove that he has valid prescriptions for both oxycodone and hydrocodone, drugs commonly sold as Oxycontin and Vicodin, although he did not provide the documentation Thursday. 

A third drug found in Cochran’s system, oxymorphone, is a byproduct of the oxycodone and not a separate drug, Beevers said.

He said Cochran has undergone a half-dozen recent medical procedures — including multiple surgeries — for problems with his hands, shoulder, back and urinary tract.

Cochran, nonetheless, had not taken either medication for several days before he was pulled over, Beevers said.

“Larry doesn’t deny he was operating the vehicle, but he denies he was operating it in a reckless manner,” Beevers said. “He was not impaired. Anybody who has a script can take medication as prescribed.”

Kenner police have said Cochran was pulled over about 12:30 a.m. after a witness called to report a Chevy Tahoe with a public license plate was “swerving all over the roadway” and even driving into the neutral ground on Joe Yenni Boulevard in north Kenner.

An officer pulled the vehicle over on Cabernet Drive, near the home of Cochran’s secretary. Police said Cochran performed poorly on a field sobriety test and that he displayed bloodshot, glossy eyes and slow speech.

According to police, Cochran also made strange comments, asking if there was anything officers could do for him and saying, “I guess this means I should fill out my resignation papers.”

Cochran showed a blood-alcohol content of .00 on what is commonly referred to as the Breathalyzer test; the legal limit is .08 percent. But police said he bit off the mouthpiece on the testing machine when he first tried to take it.

Suspecting he was impaired by drugs, they drew his blood and booked him on counts of driving under the influence and reckless operation of a motor vehicle.

Cochran was released from jail shortly after his arrest because of overcrowding. Police publicly released the blood test results last week.

Beevers on Thursday hinted at other aspects of the defense he may present for Cochran if the case goes to trial.

He also said Cochran’s car was stopped on the side of the street when police initiated the traffic stop because the parish president was worried he was being followed.

“Police never saw him driving in a reckless manner,” Beevers said. “For a traffic stop, police must observe you breaking the law.”

At least one Parish Council member previously said he wanted Cochran to make a statement about the drugs found by the blood test.

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Wiley Beevers portrait
Wiley Beevers (courtesy of Wiley Beevers)

“I don’t know if it was just a one-time incident,” Councilman Paul Hogan said. “I don’t know if it is a recurring situation with him.”

But fellow Councilman Terrell Wilson said Cochran deserves the benefit of the doubt. “People ask me if he’s showing up at work,” Wilson said. “He’s at work, doing his job.”

Cochran was elected parish president in November 2015, succeeding V.J. St. Pierre. He had previously served as the Parish Council chairman.

A preliminary hearing in his case is scheduled for Dec. 4 at 1st Jefferson Parish Court in Metairie. Prosecutors had not filed charges against him as of Thursday.