Colorado lawmaker mulls pot driving impairment level
December 5, 2010
BOULDER, Colo. – A Colorado lawmaker is considering introducing a measure that would establish a marijuana driving impairment level similar to the 0.08 blood alcohol level.
The Denver Post reports that Boulder Democrat Rep. Claire Levy plans to sponsor a measure that sets the threshold for the pyschoactive component of marijuana in the bloodstream at 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
Vagueness in current state law plus concern over the rising use of medical marijuana prompted the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to draft a proposal.
Several states have zero-tolerance policies for THC or its metabolites, while Pennsylvania and handful of other states have established a limit of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
“It will bring some clarity to the issue of whether you are or are not impaired under the influence of marijuana,” Levy told the Post. “… There isn’t a bright line right now.”
Members of the commission, which is composed of law enforcement officials, attorneys and citizens that examine justice reform issues, endorsed the proposal last month.
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“It became clear to us that marijuana is an area that had not been given due consideration,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, a commission member.
Robinson cited research that he says shows the proposed level is indicative of impairment. Anyone stopped by police and who tests at the 5 nanogram level would be presumed to be impaired, the same way a driver over the 0.08 blood alcohol level would be considered impaired.
Sean McAllister, a lawyer who serves on the commission, raises concerns that the research doesn’t take into account the tolerance level of medical marijuana patients. Frequent users may be able to have higher THC levels without impairment, though he advises users to wait four hours after using marijuana before driving.
“No responsible advocate of legalization believes that people should be driving high,” McAllister said.
In Colorado, THC or some other form of marijuana showed up in 26 of the 312 drivers killed this year – or about 8 percent.