Pot DUI Bill Advances in Colorado House
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Pot DUI Bill Advances in Colorado House
Posted by CN Staff on March 22, 2011 at 19:26:03 PT
By Ivan Moreno, Associated Press 
Source: Washington Examiner
Colorado -- A proposal to set a blood-content threshold to charge marijuana users with driving under the influence advanced in the Colorado House Tuesday, after lawmakers argued over what would be an appropriate limit.The measure would allow prosecutors to charge drivers with DUI if they test positive for a THC level of 5 nanograms or more per milliliter in their blood, a level that has angered some medical marijuana users but that would the most liberal in statute in the country. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The bill comes as medical marijuana in Colorado continues to skyrocket and lawmakers worry about the possibility of people driving impaired. The County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Colorado District Attorney's Council support the bill and say it's no different than setting a limit for what for what is considered too drunk to drive.But advocates for medical marijuana use have pushed back, saying some daily users of the drug may develop tolerance levels that may allow them to drive safely and that they would be unfairly punished by a 5-nanogram level. Medical marijuana users also say they hope the blood test alone will not be the only factor in convicting drivers, and that suspects will be allowed to present evidence to rebut the case against them.Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat from Boulder who is co-sponsoring House Bill 1261, tried to ease concerns from medical marijuana users by suggesting that the limit be increased to 8 nanograms. But her amendment drew sharp criticism from the bill co-sponsor, Republican Rep. Mark Waller of El Paso County, who said 5 nanograms was a fair limit considering some experts had suggested that 2 nanograms would be fine, too.Another lawmaker, Republican Rep. Bob Gardner, was so upset at Levy's proposed change that he suggested lowering the limit further to 2 nanograms. Republican Rep. Tom Massey of Poncha Springs, broke some of the tension."I can't remember what I was going to say but I'm hungry," he joked.Levy opposed making the nanogram limit stricter."I think we really would run the risk of being very over inclusive and arresting and convicting people who are not impaired," Levy said.Lawmakers approved a 5 nanogram level in the end and the bill faces a final vote in the House before it goes to the Senate.It's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, but states have taken varying approaches to deal with the problem.Nevada, which is among the 16 states that allow medical marijuana, and Ohio and have a 2 nanogram THC limit for driving. Pennsylvania has a 5 nanogram limit, but unlike Colorado's proposal, it's a state Health Department guideline, which can be introduced in driving violation cases. Twelve other states have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance. Those states include Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Utah and Wisconsin.According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, peak THC concentrations are present during the act of smoking and they generally fall to less than 5 nanograms within three hours.Supporters of the bill said the proposal is not aimed at medical marijuana users and that people would only be stopped if they are driving erratically. Once drivers are pulled over, they would be asked to submit to a blood test if a law enforcement officer believes they are driving impaired my marijuana.The need for a blood test did not go over well with Republican Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling."To me, that's an invasion," he said.Waller responded by saying that drivers can always refuse to take a blood test, which would result in them losing their privilege to drive.Source: Washington Examiner (DC)Author: Ivan Moreno, Associated Press Published: March 22, 2011Copyright: 2011 Washington ExaminerContact: threads dcexaminer.comURL: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #1 posted by por1 on March 22, 2011 at 19:53:53 PT
Being a colorado native and having lived most of my life, I can tell you cannabis has never been hard for me to get since the early seveties.They act like this is a new thing,But I say we have about the same percentage of people using now as we did then.We have laws that work now we dont need more.This one is just anouther waist
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