Colorado is known as a state that is open to the use of medical marijuana; such utilization and dispensaries of the otherwise illegal substance is now legal. The legalization of the drug, however, has created worry among people concerned about traffic safety. Currently, there is no set standard regarding how to measure whether a driver under the influence of marijuana is actually legally impaired to drive.
According to the Colorado Independent, state organizations and political leaders are attempting to solve that problem in an attempt to protect not only drivers, but all Coloradoans' rights as well. This is not a simple feat. It seems simple enough because of how authorities measure blood alcohol levels in drunk driving cases, but debate exists among the community regarding the best way to effectively measure impairment caused by the active chemical in marijuana, THC.
Sources suggest that the upcoming legislative session will likely address this hot topic and that the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice Drug Policy Task Force will present a proposal about medical marijuana related to drug DUI charges. Those behind the proposed legislation have reportedly done research and come up with an objective way to measure and therefore charge marijuana users who are too impaired to drive.
They believe that imposing a standard legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC/ml in whole blood would be a fair rule. To fully explain that that measurement would take some scientific thought, but it is most important to realize that it's meant to be a way to treat all potential offenders the same way in the system. The researchers feel that the proposed standard would meet the balance of protecting responsible users and identifying the dangerous users.
The proposal, of course, has its critics. Representatives of the National Cannabis Industry Association and Denver's Cannabis Therapy Institute contend that a 5 nanogram standard would not protect legal, safe users of medical marijuana. They suggest that it comes down to observed impairment, not scientifically measured impairment in order for Colorado drivers to be treated fairly.
This is sure to be an ongoing discussion among the Colorado community, and we will post updates if the legislature makes any decisions on this important legal issue.
Colorado Independent: "Legislature likely to set dope-use limits for drivers," Scot Kersgaard, 8 Dec. 2010