Driving while under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Colorado. However, studies indicate that driving high is less dangerous than driving drunk.
The use of recreational and medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado for some time. However, this does not mean that it is legal to drive while under the influence of marijuana. Marijuana proponents have argued that driving while high is much different from driving while under the influence of alcohol. Even so, people face the same penalties for driving under the influence of pot as they do after having too many drinks.
Colorado driving laws regarding marijuana
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, it is illegal to drive with five nanograms or more of active THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes intoxication, in one's bloodstream. This includes the use of medicinal marijuana, as well as recreational pot. A chemical test is often conducted to determine if someone has been driving under the influence, but police officers are also able to make an arrest based on probable cause. This means that if a driver is showing signs that he or she is impaired, he or she may be arrested without a chemical test.
Effects of driving high
However, just how dangerous is it to drive while high? Many of those in favor of lenient marijuana laws claim that the effects of intoxication on driving ability are nowhere near as severe as drinking and driving. NORML states that studies have shown marijuana to only mildly affect a person's reflexes and motor skills while driving. In addition, drivers under the influence of marijuana were said to adjust their driving in relation to their impairment, such as decreasing their speed and assessing hazards more carefully. In contrast, drunk drivers have long been known to take serious risks behind the wheel, ranging from speeding to disobeying traffic laws.
According to CNN, the driving study involving marijuana was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Office on National Drug Control Policy and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Further results of the study indicated that after using marijuana, some drivers may have reduced peripheral vision and could weave within their lane, so it is evident that there is some impairment with marijuana.
Frequent pot users might also take note that they could potentially face marijuana charges even if they were not under the influence at the time they were pulled over. According to Leaf Science, traces of THC could remain in a marijuana smoker's system for several days after the last use. The results may vary with each person, but tend to last longer in people who use marijuana more frequently.
Legal marijuana laws are still relatively new in Denver and other places where the drug is legal. Therefore, drivers may be confused as to how much they can use and legally be allowed to drive. If you are facing drug charges, it can help to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney.