Colorado Senate to vote on marijuana DUI bill

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 23:01 EDT
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Marijuana pot smoker via AFP
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The Colorado Senate will vote on legislation that would make it illegal for anyone to operate a motor vehicle with trace amounts of THC — the main psychoactive compound in marijuana — in their blood.

“Quite frankly, I think it’s time we cleared the smoke out of this,” state Sen. Steve King (R), who authored the bill, said in January. “If you drive high, it’s against the law, it puts people’s lives at risk and you should deal with the consequences of making that bad decision.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 117, redefines driving under the influence (DUI) to include “driving when the driver’s blood contains more than 5 nanograms or more of delta-9-THC per milliliter in whole blood.” It is already illegal under state law to drive while impaired by any drug, but King said law enforcement agents need a reliable way to test if a driver is high.

However, opponents of the legislation noted that THC can remain in a person’s body for days because it is a fat-soluble substance.

“Senate Bill 117 is inappropriate because THC levels in blood are often inconsistent predictors of behavioral impairment, particularly in daily users (such as many of those in Colorado’s patient community) who may possess residual levels of THC in their blood for periods of time far exceeding any reasonable period of psychomotor impairment,” NORML explained.

If Colorado Senate passes the bill, it would still need to be approved by the state House before being signed into law by the governor.

Medical marijuana is legal in Colorado. Residents of the state will have the opportunity this November to legalize marijuana possession and allow regulated sales of marijuana.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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