With marijuana now legal in Colorado, state lawmakers are still trying to decide how best to adapt existing laws to the new regulations, and in an attempt to do so, many are striving to balance personal freedoms with public safety.
One of the fault lines in the ongoing state legislature debate regarding setting a per se limit for THC is determining where to set the bar for a driving offense that would be comparable to DUIs and DWAIs for alcohol. For example, Washington state places the legal limit at five nanograms per 100 milliliters of blood, as do countries like Germany, which uses two qualitative penalties.
This figure is based on research by Dutch scientist Jan Ramaekers, whose work found that marijuana users are generally impaired at this level. However, stronger scientific evidence suggests that chronic users may have higher tolerances, thus making them able to operate vehicles effectively despite increased consumption and increased levels of active THC in their blood.
Democrat Morgan Carroll, according to The Washington Post, is one lawmaker that would like the system to take this reasoning into account.
“My number one problem is that you could convict someone at five nanograms who wasn’t actually impaired,” she told the report.
The source says that Caroll believes impairment can occur anywhere from two nanograms to 20 nanograms, and that individuals should be able to make their case in court as to whether they were indeed impaired at the time of the arrest.
Others are vehemently against this kind of reasoning. Steve King, a Republican who supports a legal THC limit, says that there have been similar arguments made with alcohol, but at the end of the day, it’s important for these individuals to take responsibility for their decision to drive.
While this argument is likely to continue for some time, it’s important for drivers to know where to turn if they are embroiled in controversy as a result of legalized marijuana. At The Orr Law Firm, our Colorado DUI attorneys can assist you as you make your case despite an uncertain legal setting.
HB 1114 DUID—Marijuana