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Looking for a better DUID standard in Colorado, Part 2

A Colorado marijuana advocacy group is, like legions of residents and motorists across the state, less than enthralled with the legal presumption -- the "permissible inference," as termed in our September 8 blog post -- that any motorist with at least five nanograms of THC in his or her blood is driving stoned.

Cannabis Clinicians Colorado views that benchmark as a standard without scientific backing and essentially just arbitrarily applied.

Instant ambiguity and inconsistency attached to the 5-ng threshold from its outset, says a CCC principal, because of the state's decision "to regulate this like alcohol."

The organization is confident that a more objective basis for determining legal impairment for Colorado residents who drive after consuming marijuana can be found, and it recently conducted research to kick start that effort.

The organization's initiative took place in Lakewood, where a group of volunteers participated in a two-part study aimed at more precisely identifying a "how high is too high?" threshold for driving under the influence of drugs that might reasonably be applicable to the general public.

In the initial prong of the study, participants "soberly" responded to questions about their driving habits and comfort level and then engaged in field sobriety tests. They also gave blood and saliva samples.

And then they smoked marijuana until, in their view, they no longer felt that they would be safe or comfortable behind the wheel. At that point, they again answered driving-related questions, retook the sobriety tests and provided a second round of blood and saliva samples.

The results will now be studied, with the CCC encouraging police departments across the state to peruse the videotaped sobriety tests for insight into mannerisms and impaired abilities that might seem reasonably synonymous with driving in a drug-impaired condition. Researchers hope, too, that the lab results will provide a useful metric for determining a DUID (driving under the influence of drugs) threshold.

Any useful information that emerges at all, researchers and organizers say, will promote certainty and enhanced objectivity beyond that which features from the simple assessment that 5 nanograms in the blood stream supports a DUID arrest and conviction.

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