Colo. May Set Limits for Driving after MJ Use
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Colo. May Set Limits for Driving after MJ Use
Posted by CN Staff on December 05, 2010 at 05:48:56 PT
By John Ingold, The Denver Post
Source: Denver Post
Denver -- Colorado could soon establish tough new measures to crack down on those who toke and drive.Under a proposal expected to be introduced at the Capitol early next year, the state would create a threshold for the amount of THC  the psychoactive component of marijuana  drivers could have in their blood. Anyone who is stopped and tests above that limit would be considered to be driving while stoned.
Drivers suspected of being impaired by marijuana or other drugs already have to submit to a blood test or face a suspension of their licenses. But the proposed law would set a standard at which the law would presume a driver impaired by marijuana."It will bring some clarity to the issue of whether you are or are not impaired under the influence of marijuana," said state Rep. Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat who is likely to be one of the proposal's sponsors in the legislature. ". . . There isn't a bright line right now."State law already bans driving while under the influence of drugs, but law enforcement officials say the law is vague on how they should establish a suspect is high. That  plus the concern that the state's medical-marijuana explosion could lead to more impaired driving  led members of a subgroup of the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to examine the issue, said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, a commission member."It became clear to us that marijuana is an area that had not been given due consideration," he said. Gauging Impairment  The proposal, which the full commission endorsed last month, sets the THC threshold at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Robinson said research shows that level is indicative of impairment. Anyone over the threshold would be presumed to be impaired, in the same way any driver with a blood-alcohol content over 0.08 percent is considered to be too drunk to drive.Sean McAllister, a lawyer who serves on the commission's drug policy subgroup, said the research doesn't take into account the tolerance level of frequent users. He said he worries that the proposal could unfairly affect medical-marijuana patients, who may be able to have higher THC levels without impairment.But, he said, he agrees something needs to be done, and he said he advises patients to wait at least four hours after using marijuana before driving."No responsible advocate of legalization believes that people should be driving high," McAllister said.David Kaplan, the state's former top public defender, said he shares concerns over the 5-nanogram level and whether "there was a strong enough correlation on what impact it has on your driving behavior."Still, Kaplan, who is the vice chairman of the commission, said he supports the process by which the commission came to its proposal. Other States Set Limits  If the proposal is adopted, Colorado would not be the first state to set a maximum THC limit for drivers. A number of states have zero-tolerance policies for drivers with THC in their blood. A handful of states, including Pennsylvania, have a 5-nanogram limit for marijuana or its metabolites, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML.Marijuana advocates and law enforcement officials often clash over how big of a problem stoned driving is.A report last month from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration found that at least one in five drivers who were killed in car crashes in 2009 subsequently tested positive for drugs. THC or some other form of marijuana showed up in 1,085 of the 21,798 drivers killed. In Colorado, THC or some other form of marijuana showed up in 26 of the 312 drivers killed that year.The commission's proposal will likely be turned into a draft bill and introduced in the legislature during the early part of next year's session, which starts in January. Because it has the backing of the commission, its sponsors are optimistic it will receive a warm reception.State Rep. Bob Gardner, a Colorado Springs Republican who is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which would likely be first to vote on the proposal, agreed."I think there's a lot of support for that idea," he said.Source: Denver Post (CO)Author: John Ingold, The Denver PostPublished: December 5, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post CorpWebsite: openforum denverpost.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by afterburner on December 06, 2010 at 09:43:42 PT
Paid Liars
People who get paid to lie have forfeited their right to be respected!
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Comment #6 posted by dongenero on December 06, 2010 at 08:13:07 PT
How about impairment from pharmaceuticals?..... know, all the ones that say "don't operate machinery until you know how this drug will affect you".Are they planning to test for these hundreds or thousands of intoxicating pharmaceutical drugs as well, or is this just a cannabis witch hunt? 
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Comment #5 posted by runruff on December 05, 2010 at 21:11:33 PT
Most insightful, Mr. Adams!
History can be reviewed in chapters of reports that can cover centuries in a few pages. When I was very young I became interested in history. At this now time in my life I have seen and even made a little history. What intrigues me is how slowly history unfolds in real time? Like the disappearing budget delima, now being realized by the LEOs. One day we will look back at the years of melting support for the WoD and the fight these budget whores will put up to keep their share of the pie. I foresee a torchered future for these shady bureaucrats. "What goes around comes around" they say this a lot in prison. It means what it says and there are no safety nets for the elite. Everyone pays even if it is your last coin you give to the boatman at the river Styx, life is a trade off in everything in every way. I once explained to a young friend that everything has a price especially money. For every reward there is a deficit for every deficit there is a recipient and around we go!So yes, they are nervous and with the best of reason. I know nothing last forever, and in our society 40 years is an eternity. 40 years of one monumental failure designed to fail, in this twisted since, the failure was a success and so long as they continue to fail to meet their goals in the WoD they will continue to be a raging success!PS: Michele Lyin'fart has bad hair! 
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Comment #4 posted by DrDunkleosteus on December 05, 2010 at 15:23:16 PT:
I agree with The GWC
Depending on how this gets implemented, it could be a good or bad thing. On the positive side, it could mean a more honest testing system that would only identify the active THC content and not the stored metabolites. Thus ending the unfair prosecution of sober drivers with day, week, or month old metabolites in their system. On the negative side, it could turn out to be another way of testing for drug impairment ALONGSIDE other methods like urinalysis. If the unfair practices are allowed to continue in conjunction with new methods, it will make life very difficult for cannabis consumers and patients.I see it in the positive light. With a system of impairment in place in Colorado, opponents of legalization voting in the upcoming legalization measure there would lose a point of debate. They could no longer claim that there will be more stoned drivers because the system would already be in place to prevent it. This should put more voters at ease.Personally, I don't think enough people realize that cannabis consumers often resort to smoking in their cars out of the fear of being caught smoking at home in their neighborhoods and apartment complexes. Give them the right to smoke at home and they will!
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Comment #3 posted by duzt on December 05, 2010 at 08:26:22 PT
It would be fine if they didn't just choose a number and say anybody over that is impaired. If I'm driving just fine and get pulled over for a tail light and the officer happens to notice I a smell, that shouldn't be cause. If I'm driving 10 miles an hour on the side of the freeway giggling uncontrollably, then he would have cause for suspecting impairment. They need a road test like for alcohol. 
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Comment #2 posted by Sam Adams on December 05, 2010 at 08:07:02 PT
understand what's happening
As MJ is virtually legal in CO, the criminal justice industry is panicking. How to continue the gravy train of EASY arrests, court dates, prosecution, lab testing, prison construction, prison guards, probation officers and court clerks? Imagine reading in the paper that your company just lost 40% of their clients. You'd know what was coming - mass layoffs, pay cuts, harder work. This driving stuff, and all the Byzantine regs like videotaping and barcoding bags of dried flowers, are all intended to continue the Gravy Train. They will provide work and enforcement & prosecution jobs for many thousands of over-payed government workers.
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Comment #1 posted by The GCW on December 05, 2010 at 07:13:01 PT
This can be good or bad depending.
If interested in this topic, please check out the comments on this article at the Denver Post. a cannabis activist, I think it could be ok to have a test for honest impairment. But the key word is honest impairment. If someone can walk the line (so to speak) and this test finds them over some arbitrary limit then the system is set up more to discriminate rather than protect citizens.Done right, this could help the movement to legalize cannabis.  
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