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Marijuana, THC and alleged DUI

Colorado lawmakers are discussing possible blood level limits for individuals allegedly under the influence of marijuana. Such proposals have come up in the past, but Colorado legislators have decided against such laws on three separate occasions. In fact, only two states in the nation so far have similar type of legislation on the books.

The gist of the legislation would be to measure the level of THC in the blood stream, and then charge drivers with DUI if a certain THC level was exceeded. Though Colorado law enforcement authorities reported that there have been an increase in fatal accidents involving drivers testing positive for marijuana, opponents of the above legislation feel that imposing such a limit may not adequately address the problem.

Though no one supports individuals impaired by the use of marijuana being allowed to drive, the proposed legislation puts innocent individuals at risk for DUI arrests. Evidence used to convict must reliably show that impairment exists. Otherwise, attorneys will move that this type of evidence not be allowed in.

It must be kept in mind that level of THC is different from blood alcohol levels. One problem with the adopting of such a law is that THC tends to remain longer in the blood stream, but the fact that it happens to be in the bloodstream does not mean that the individual is impaired.

Colorado is one of sixteen states that have legalized medical marijuana. Those using medical marijuana will likely have high THC levels long after marijuana use without any signs of impairment. However, if the proposed legislation is passed, there is a concern that patients using such medical marijuana could be arrested for the levels of THC in the blood.

Source: Denver Post, "Colo. Lawmakers revisit marijuana DUI standard," by Ivan Moreno, Sep. 14, 2012

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