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Under the Influence: Colorado’s Controversial DUI Bill

Infographic on testing for the amount of cannabis in a body

In The Magazine

Under the Influence: Colorado’s Controversial DUI Bill

Originally published on pg 40 in issue 8 of Cannabis Now Magazine

Here’s a Sneak Peak:

When Washington voters passed a legalization bill last November, they voted in a controversial 5 nanogram THC/mL of blood DUI limit for those over 21; for underage drivers there is zero tolerance. In Colorado, a bill to establish a 5 ng/mL limit failed six times in the last three years. Most of this controversy has been around the question of whether or not blood tests are an accurate and fair way to determine if someone is too impaired to drive.

Colorado House Bill 1325 establishes the right of a person who has been charged with a cannabis DUI to refute that charge in court.

“For example, if you did not exhibit poor driving, you can put that on as evidence to say, ‘Look, my driving was not poor, I’m not unsafe to operate a motor vehicle,’” Rep. Mark Waller (R-Colorado Springs) said at a hearing.

Although individuals arrested for a cannabis DUI can make an argument for their innocence, the controversy about the 5 ng/mL limit continues. State Senator Pat Steadman (D-Denver) argued that those who legally use cannabis could be cited unfairly for impaired driving even if they aren’t stoned.

“Some of these people wake up in the morning and roll out of bed at five nanograms,” Steadman said.

Unlike urine tests, where inactive THC metabolites can linger for weeks after chronic use, blood tests detect the active presence of THC in the body, according the newly published “California NORML Guide to Drug Testing”, which footnotes all the pertinent studies. In the case of smoked marijuana, THC peaks rapidly in the first few minutes after inhaling, often to levels near 100 ng/mL, then declines quickly to single-digit levels within an hour. THC can remain at low but detectable levels of 1-2 ng/mL in the blood for 8 hours in occasional users or several days in chronic users without any measurable signs of impairment.

All 50 states have prohibited individuals from operating a motor vehicle who show any signs of cannabis intoxication. However, with…purchase issue 8 to read more.

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