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Colorado medical marijuana users struggle with THC legal limit

Denver readers are familiar by now with the dilemma faced by regular users of medical marijuana: continue taking their medication and risk a criminal offense or avoid that risk by discontinuing the medication. With the legal limit for marijuana having been set at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood of THC, more than a few medical marijuana patients in Colorado face this risk.

As criminal defense attorneys have pointed out, establishing a THC limit gave law enforcement something solid to work with, but there is little guidance for users of marijuana to ensure they are following the DUI law, particularly those who use the drug medicinally. The obvious solution—just don’t drive after using—may be workable for recreational users of marijuana, but for those who use medical marijuana routinely, this is a real challenge. 

Officers do not, of course, need to test blood THC levels to charge an individual with marijuana DUI. All they need is sufficient evidence that the driver was using marijuana and that this impaired his or her ability to safely operate the vehicle. If a blood test is taken, this must be done according to legal requirements.

Those who have been charged with marijuana DUI, as other DUI defendants, need to understand their rights under the law. In evaluating a DUI case, a skilled criminal defense attorney will look at a wide spectrum of issues, including how the police investigation was conducted, what defenses are available, and opportunities to minimize the consequences of charges. Those facing marijuana DUI charges should work with an experienced attorney in building a strong defense case early on in the criminal process. 

Source: Npr.org, “Without A Marijuana Breathalyzer, How To Curb Stoned Driving?,” Ben Markus May 21, 2014. 

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