Colorado is looking to crack down on driving while under the influence of marijuana. The state, which has legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, now sees the need to treat drugged-driving like drunk-driving. The Colorado Senate has recently passed a bill that would establish a "Per Se DUI" for drivers who have high levels of THC in their blood. The bill now heads to the House, where it is expected to pass.
Drivers pulled over for driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs currently need to submit to a blood test or lose their license. This new law would set THC limits at five nanograms per milliliter while driving or within two hours of driving.
The lawmakers hope to stop the debate of "are you or aren't you" impaired by marijuana, and make it de facto that if you are under the influence of marijuana and driving, then you are doing an illegal activity.
Since the passing of the medical marijuana law, law enforcement officials say they have seen a major increase in drivers using marijuana. Senator Steve King, the bill's sponsor, states that accident rates for those driving under the influence of marijuana have increased by 59 percent over the last four years. By putting these THC limits in place, officials hope that the increased potential penalties will reduce the amount of drugged drivers.
Opponents to the bill believe the blood test will not allow for the increased tolerance level of frequent users and limits the abilities of those who use marijuana for medical purposes. They feel that the THC limit of five nanograms takes away discretion from police officers, and that simply being over the THC limit does not automatically mean a driver is impaired. No one is advocating for the legality of driving while high, naysayers just believe there are other and more reasonable ways to incite safe driving.
If the law is adopted, Colorado will join a small number of states that have also instituted DUI rules for marijuana users. Everyone aspires to have safer roads; the argument begins when we have to decide how to create them.