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Colorado Bill to Regulate Pot Driving Clears First Hurdle

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Pot-smoking driver

Colorado’s House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed House Bill 1114, which sets the marijuana blood level limit for drivers, as Ryan Parker reports for The Denver Post.

Sponsored by House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, and state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, the bill “sets the legal limit for driving under the influence of marijuana at 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood,” Parker writes. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, as an article on TheDenverChannel.com notes.

Although previous attempts to set a limit have failed, Waller said it is more important to have a standard now, since the passage of Amendment 64 legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults in Colorado, Parker writes. Waller said his bill differs from previous versions because it would allow a driver to contest that they are impaired at the 5-nanogram level, according to TheDenverChannel.com.

Kristen Wyatt writes in an Associated Press article appearing on SFGate:

… [D]riving-high proposals have failed three times in Colorado because of concerns that blood tests aren’t a fair way to tell whether someone is too high to get behind the wheel. Marijuana activists argued that blood THC limits don’t accurately indicate impairment, and that Colorado should stick with its current reliance on officer observation that someone is stoned.

Teri Robnett, a medical marijuana patient, testified at Tuesday’s hearing that medical pot patients have elevated THC blood levels and might be unfairly prosecuted even if they are sober and able to drive, Wyatt writes, adding:

[Robnett] also argued that marijuana users have no easy way to self-test to find out if their blood levels are within legal parameters before driving, and that marijuana users know when they’re impaired.

Parker writes that although members of the committee said they understood concerns expressed by those opposing the bill, “We have to treat marijuana like alcohol and that is what this bill attempts to do,” said state Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs.

The House Appropriations Committee will consider the bill next, Parker writes, before it is sent to the House. Wyatt notes that “the greater test is the state Senate,” as that is where marijuana blood limit bills have failed three times previously.

Image by miggslives.

 

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