Colo. pot DUIs bill gets first hearing at Capitol |

Colo. pot DUIs bill gets first hearing at Capitol

DENVER (AP) – Colorado lawmakers will consider a bill Thursday that sets a blood-content threshold for what constitutes being too high to drive, as the state navigates through a range of issues raised by a spike in medical marijuana use.

A House committee with hear the first testimony Thursday on a bill that would allow prosecutors to charge a driver with driving under the influence if they test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. It’s already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs. But House Bill 1261 would make Colorado one of a handful of states with a benchmark – and one of the most liberal ones – in the U.S. at which someone would be considered too impaired to drive after smoking marijuana.

States have taken different approaches at the issue of driving under the influence of marijuana. Twelve states have zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance. Nevada and Ohio have a 2 nanogram THC limit for driving. While Pennsylvania also has a 5 nanogram limit, it’s one that set by the state Health Department that can be used as evidence in driving violation cases.

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.

Colorado is among 16 states that allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. Some medical marijuana activists fear the bill will lead to unfair arrests of people using the drug for medical purposes who may have developed a tolerance that would allow them to drive safely.

Rep. Claire Levy, a Democrat from Boulder, maintains the bill is about public safety and that only people who are driving badly will be pulled over. Don Christensen, the executive director of the County Sheriffs of Colorado, said his group supports the legislation. He said that legislation is a fair way to establish how much marijuana a person can consume while legally being able to drive.


Read House Bill 1261:

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