THC blood test: Pot critic William Breathes nearly 3 times over proposed limit when sober

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Last week, in advance of today's Senate debate over a bill that would set THC driving limits, I had blood drawn (for a second time) to see just how much active THC was in my blood even after a night of sleep and not smoking for fifteen hours.

As it turns out, I've got a lot. So much that I and thousands of other medical marijuana patients may be risking arrest every time we drive if the measure passes. Even when deemed sober by a doctor, my active THC levels were almost triple the proposed standard of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.

Among the concerns about HB 1261, the THC driving bill first offered by Representative Claire Levy, is the fact that THC can stay in the body days after patients medicate. And my latest test offers proof.

The lab ran a serum/plasma test which showed my THC count to be at 27. According to Dr. Alan Shackelford, who ordered the blood work and evaluated my results, the number of active THC nanograms per milliliter count is about half of that total, or 13.5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

In short: If this bill passes and I was pulled over by police, I would be over the limit by 8.5 nanograms. By that logic, I would be more likely to have mowed down a family in my car on my way to the doctor's office that day than actually arriving there safely. But I didn't -- because I wasn't impaired.

Don't take my word for it. According to Shackelford, who evaluated me before writing the order to have my blood drawn last Wednesday, I was "in no way incapacitated." According to him, my test results show that it would not be uncommon to see such a high level in other people who use cannabis regularly -- like medical marijuana patients. "Your level was about 13.5 for whole blood... which would have made you incapacitated on a lab value," he said. "They need to vote this sucker down based on that alone."

Frankly, I didn't even need to go through this effort to prove that. Levy appears to understand that the limit might unintentionally hurt patients like me, since she's shared her concern that 5 nanograms is too low. Yet the bill still moved through to the senate.

Now, with some actual proof from a Colorado medical marijuana patient that this is the case, could someone curb this bill?

The Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss HB 1261 today at 1:30 p.m. at the Capitol Building. The hearing will offer the last time public comment will be heard about the proposal.

More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving limits could cause more innocent people to spend months in jail, attorney says."

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112 comments
shanstroman
shanstroman

Besides everyone's system metabolizes differently. I am a medical user and use daily for the past 7 years and tested NEGATIVE in a blood test... How does that make sense?? It doesn't and that's another reason to stop this bill!!!

brandi22
brandi22

I thought the "Breathes" in the title was a verb.

hipcowboy420
hipcowboy420

I smoke daily & have been for 43yrs. I have never been in an accident & I have never gotten a ticket in my entire life.

brettdixonmusic
brettdixonmusic like.author.displayName 1 Like

I smoke on a daily basis and have never gotten in an accident, and I drive many miles a day.

Dominc
Dominc like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am down with testing.But if we do. Do it for all drugs then. I cannot drive legally on mmj even if I am not physically impaired. Lets start testing for zanax, colanopine.valume and pain meds on everyone that has a script and gets stopped. The amount they have in there blood on regular basis would impair me. They wake up in the morning take there medication and technically drive high. I say lets make it fair for all. I don't want to share the road with impaired drivers. I also don't want the legal system to improperly charge sober people when they see a red card in your wallet.

depressed
depressed like.author.displayName 1 Like

This is bullshit I just got pulled over last Friday and facing a duid they took my blood it was at least 4 hrs since I smoked in freaking out though since I am a daily smoker ... If I get convicted my license is lost for 5 years due to prior Dwai and driving revoked ;.(

Gupi TheSound
Gupi TheSound

any allowed to be in my system is better than now which is none, i can be arrested for just having it in my system, we have not fought for this so long for medical smokers to shoot it down, it aint got nothing to do with you guys who get your license and give up on the fight, so suck it.

HimyNameisMauk
HimyNameisMauk like.author.displayName 1 Like

People are so damn dumb. If i smoke; i drive better.  I am ultimately more responsible because I am over cautious. In fact i would go as far to say i can drive better high than the majority of people can drive sober. Please every body vote this down it is a horrible law to pass.

Matt McLaughlin
Matt McLaughlin like.author.displayName 1 Like

Its true...stuff sticks around weeks all awhile the driving record is perf.

Sean Swanson
Sean Swanson

@FlatFoot

You are a prime example of the ignorant people still out there. Us "stoners" still have much work to do! You offer facts, yet barely take the time to read them yourself! Though THC stays in your system for weeksafter ingestion, you are not still affected by the compounds stored in your fat cells!

It's like saying after 72 hours of taking Vicodin, I would still be feeling it's effects. Hydrocodone (Vicodin) stays in your system for up to 3-4 days. Does this mean people who are prescribed to such opiates should refrain from driving for up to 4 days just because it is still in their system?

I really hope you actually respond to all the people who responded to you. And either explain to us your logic or let us know we taught you something.

PS - what was the point of the life story in the beginning of your post? Just because you were a musician, an ex-con, and have tattoos doesn't mean you know anything about the science behind cannabis.

Mgillis47
Mgillis47

Is it necessary for our lawmakers to wast time and resources on such a issue, it frightens me to find so little is known by the people that represent me.

So many out of work, wake up.

Markandmmj
Markandmmj like.author.displayName 1 Like

Well done, this proof is exactly why legislators in Colorado have sent this for further study. It's big that we are the first State not to accept a THC driving limit as per se law. Compassion for Cannabis is winning. :)

Mara Felsen
Mara Felsen like.author.displayName 1 Like

but who cares, right? we just want an excuse to jail people who consume cannabis, not those who are breaking laws or endangering others. we have lots of room in our prisons and infinite money to spend.

Jimmy
Jimmy like.author.displayName 1 Like

Correct me if I'm wrong, but many pharmaceuticals that are in daily use by large numbers of people have the heavy machinery/motor vehicle warning on them as well; if we're testing for weed shouldn't we also test drivers for Xanax? I know that for the brief period that I was prescribed Xanax I was WAAAAY more incapacitated than when using any type of herbal medicine. Percocet? OC? Much more dangerous than weed.

It's been my experience that stoned drivers are cautious, thoughtful, non-aggressive and are actually paying attention.

Des Moden
Des Moden like.author.displayName 1 Like

Very sad. We DO need a way to tell if someone is too under the influence of THC. It appears however that this is NOT the way to do it.

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis like.author.displayName 1 Like

why? if evidence shows someone to be impaired they can ALREADY get a DUI for pot. The only way to tell if someone is impaired is by observing their behavior.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903 like.author.displayName 1 Like

The Know Nothing prohibitionists motto is "never let the facts get in the way of an effective piece of hysterical rhetoric.

California passed the Compassionate Use Act in 1996, and SB-420 in 2004.

Between 2002 and 2009 California led the US to a nationwide, statistically significant decrease in the incidence of "drugged" driving. During the same time frame the number of patients claiming the protection of the CUA and SB-420 more than tripled.

SAMHSA also said that there wasn't even a single State that had a statistically significant increase in the incidence of "drugged" driving despite a number of other States implementing medicinal cannabinoid patient protection laws. That would include Colorado.

There were 7 States which boasted a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of "drugged" driving, and their combined decrease caused the incidence of "drugged" driving to decline during the study period. 4 of the 7 States have medicinal cannabis patient protection laws and are California, Alaska, Hawaii, and Michigan. Alaska also has an extreme right to privacy protected by their State Constitution which renders petty possession in a person's home legal for all intents and purposes. It was 2003 when Ravin v State of Alaska got the 1990 ballot initiative vote tossed out by the Alaskan Court of Appeals so they had 2 full years of criminalized cannabis use during the study period but still registered that statistically significant decrease in the rate of "drugged" driving.

http://oas.samhsa.gov/2k10/205...

Like people above have noted, this controversy is a solution in search of a problem. Quite frankly I don't care much myself, as long as the police aren't informed of a patients status during the investigation. If that happens it tilts the playing field in favor of convicting those who are unimpaired.

By far the most intelligent solution is to quit using ad hoc per se levels of chemicals of each different substance in the body. With the advent of synthetic cannabis, we see that the bastard progeny of prohibition are going to keep on coming. Would you have the police carry 300 different presumptive tests in their police car's trunk? It wouldn't be hard at all to develop a computer simulator to test a person's impairment levels. It would also catch people impaired by less popular substances, e.g. diphenhydramine (Benadryl, Sominex). You better believe that taking too many Sominex pills will leave someone's driving skills FUBAR and is a much more significant danger than having cannabis in his system. If we keep on doing it the ad hoc way we're going to be arguing this same issue every time somebody comes up with a designer MAD like synthetic cannabis. Impaired is impaired and needs to be dealt with. In addition to substances like diphenhydramine there are causal factors of impaired driving for which we'll never see a per se test such as exhaustion. Do you really care if the person who mows down your family on the roads was impaired by drugs, booze, or exhaustion? Just like impaired is impaired, dead is dead. Prosecuting the unimpaired does nothing whatsoever to promote highway safety and is a wholesale injustice to boot.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903 like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am wondering, what do the DEA, the FDA, and Solvay Pharmaceuticals think about driving after medicating? Make no mistake, the language in the warning below was approved by the FDA and the DEA, and Solvay Pharma would be risking a huge civil penalty if they were to minimize something that's significantly dangerous. Anyway, let's go see what the powers that be agree is reasonable as a driving rule after taking a dose of 98% pure THC..

http://www.webmd.com/drugs/dru...

"This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or affect your judgment. Do not engage in activities requiring alertness and clear thinking, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Alcohol can worsen these side effects. Avoid alcoholic beverages."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

"...until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely."

Sandy
Sandy

"Pot critic William Breathes nearly 3 times over proposed limit when sober"

I thought it was a blood test.

William Breathes
William Breathes

ah, i get it. a joke on my pen name being 'breathes'.hardy har har.

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

I've gotta say I think that may be the most humorless joke that I've ever heard. In my entire lifetime. Even more humorless than "why was Ben gay?"* Sheesh.

(*because Menthol ate him)

William Breathes
William Breathes

it was a blood test, and says so in the headline... where did you read otherwise?

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

Like I said, Sandy's joke was totally devoid of any humor. What's your last name Mr. Breathes?

A1147001
A1147001

All this and more according to Rusty Shackleford

Tyrannosaurus Thunder
Tyrannosaurus Thunder

f@ck colorado state laws, go to Canada, where you cant go to jail just for smoking marijuanaThink of it, why would you flood the jailcells with potheads? Are they violent people like murderers or assaulters? No way Hoe-zay. and when they come out of jail, they are taught how to be an actual criminal from the scumbags in there, so it only hurts in the end.canada's marijuana laws > USA's marijuana laws.Cmon, in Nevada if you have 1 single marijuana roach you go to jail. F@CK THAT, 50 cents worth of pot and go to jail? BS

Boulder Med Cannabis
Boulder Med Cannabis like.author.displayName 1 Like

you have old info. Nevada is decriminalized and they have a medical program. 1st and second offence are misdemeanors with no jail. In Colorado, for smoking it, you don't go to jail, either.

solar_satellite
solar_satellite

People are going to jail in Colorado for mere possession -- when people are tried in municipal courts, judges can and do send people to jail for small amounts of cannabis.

Robert
Robert like.author.displayName 1 Like

not mallarkey -- just the facts. This was information offered at SAFER's Marijuana Boot Camp in November, 2008, and I have no reason to believe that anything has changed in the interim. Sorry for the multiple monikers.

ALERT:

Sensible Colorado has caught the CDPHE -- they're trying to throw out the Advisory Board's recommendation that caregivers' additional responsibility be the education of patients and go back to the same BS that caregivers must be patients personal assistants -- we have until 5:00 PM TOMORROW, 4/20 to make public comment.

Tell the CDPHE that they cannot disregard this significant responsibility of caregivers for the management of patients' health and to reinstate the Advisory Board's proposed regulation -- submit comments to: cdphe.MMRAdvisoryCommittee@state.co.us

Robert ChaseColorado Coalition for Patients and Cargeivers(720) 213-6497

Robert
Robert like.author.displayName 1 Like

BMC: everywhere that cannabis is illegal under municipal ordinance and a prohibitionist judge (or magistrate) decides to impose jail time. Under the C.R.S. municipal courts can impose a sentence of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. The usual course of events is that people are first put on probation or fined, then violate term(s) of their sentence. Possession of cannabis is an offense which can and does lead to incarceration. I can't provide you with any good statistics (and it might take a substantial amount of research to evolve some), but it is continues to happen across our country, even in Colorado.

When the "Drug Czar" declares that Americans serving time for simple possession are "as rare as unicorns", or that the War on Americans is over, he is lying. We must fight the lies, and we must begin by enlightening ourselves as to their precise nature and extent, loathsome as our enemies' self-serving rhetoric is. Expect an all-out effort to trumpet alarm over the increase in cases of people accused of driving under the influence of cannabis (200 per week according to Sen. King, chief alarmist rube). There are any number of people like Tom Rains whose common sense is impervious to contradictory information, and they are regrouping for another attack right now.

Canivorouscucumber
Canivorouscucumber

I look forward to this bill passing. Junkies shouldn't be driving.

joe mama
joe mama like.author.displayName 1 Like

agreed. junkies shouldn't be driving. but this is not the way to do it. there is no science to back up anything you and the likes have to say. there isn't an ongoing epidemic of stoned drivers reeking havoc on the highways leaving bodies in their wake. it is just not happening. deadly accidents are actually down in colorado. this a solution is search of a problem. and now, thanks to the amendment, we get to have the science be heard. so put that in your prohibitionist pipe and smoke. suckah!

ps- go fuck yourself, Canivorouscucumber

Joseph, 303 Organics
Joseph, 303 Organics

thanks to everyone who helped achieve victory last night. it has been some time since we had something to smile about so make em ear to ear. again, big thanks. all of your efforts are much appreciated.

http://www.303organics.org/

Guest
Guest like.author.displayName 1 Like

"Sleep deprivation is a major cause of motor vehicle accidents, and it can impair the human brain as much as alcohol can." ... "In the United States, 250,000 drivers fall asleep at the wheel everyday, according to the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and in a national poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 54% of adult drivers said they had driven while drowsy during the past year with 28% saying they had actually fallen asleep while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsy driving is a factor in more than 100,000 crashes, resulting in 1,550 deaths and 40,000 injuries annually." -- where is the blood test to imprison sleep deprived drivers?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S...

Brendalee
Brendalee like.author.displayName 1 Like

Where are all the dead bodies?

ZZardozz
ZZardozz like.author.displayName 1 Like

I call this "Fixing something that isn't broken". Show me the marijuana car crashes. Let's see the video tape of somebody so high that they can't walk a straight line. If we aren't having these problems, then what is the point of this bill?

Blue
Blue

Seeing a lot of misinformation here.

1) The science in this article is... questionable at best. The doctor claims that THC is half of THC-COOH, which is complete bullshit. THC can be metabolized out of the body in a few hours, yet THC-COOH can stay for weeks. The fact that the doctor feels he can determine if someone is not impaired to drive is questionable.

2) THC does not stay in your system after you come down. It is the chemical that is making you high. To say that your sober while THC is present is like saying your sober while drunk. THC-COOH and other metabolites can be present in your system for weeks after your last use, and do not impair you in the slightest. If you've ever been convicted of a DWI with only THC-COOH showing on the test, then you need to get a better lawyer. This bill will help prevent such cases from being tried.

3) All the labs in the state that conduct testing on DUI blood are able, and required, to test for just the THC, and do not include the THC-COOH and other metabolites in those counts. And unlike the doctor in this article, they are not guessing. They are actually measuring the THC. You don't have to worry about THC-COOH giving you a false positive for conviction purposes.

4) You can currently be convicted of driving under the influence of THC. The charge is "Driving while Impaired" and the conviction requires that the court bring in a toxicologist to prove to the court that the THC levels present would have impaired you. All the toxicologists in the state will testify that at 5ng/mL you are impaired. It has been this way for years. In fact, at this point it is simply an expensive and time consuming routine. This bill will reduce the need to pay a toxicologist to sit on the state and repeat by rote what has been said for years.

5) If you think driving while impaired won't can't cause an accident, then please... put down the bong and back away. You've gone past the point of self-medication and into the zone of fucking stupid. High or sober, we need you back here in the land of reasonableness.

hipcowboy420
hipcowboy420

Like I said before I have been SMOKING DAILY FOR 43 YEARS I Have NEVER Been in a Accident, or even PULLED OVER my sister trusted my driving so much that she had no problem riding anywhere with me along with all of my family, and friends SO BLUE YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOURE TALKING ABOUT STUPID!

William Breathes
William Breathes like.author.displayName 1 Like

"The doctor claims that THC is half of THC-COOH, which is complete bullshit."

no, he doesn't. he says that whole blood test levels are about half of what plasma/serum levels are. that has nothing to do with inactive THC.

i think if you re-read the article knowing that, it might all make a lot more sense to you.

William Breathes
William Breathes

"All the labs in the state that conduct testing on DUI blood are able, and required, to test for just the THC, and do not include the THC-COOH and other metabolites in those counts"

actually, you should read this article by Michael Roberts that says that isn't always the case: http://blogs.westword.com/late...

Guest
Guest like.author.displayName 1 Like

Blue: I don't think anyone really condones driving impaired under any substance, however, the question is at what point is someone (ie mmj patient) actually impaired. Unbiased scientific research is needed proving the point of impairment...passing a bill where the limits are set arbitrarily is ignorant. I'm a patient and never use enough marijuana at one time to get "impaired" ... I could get stoned/high if I wanted but that is not the point. I use marijuana in small doses to increase ability to function, not decrease it. Even though I'm not impaired, as a precaution I don't drive for a few hours after using marijuana....I know I am not impaired when I drive but I don't know if a blood test would think I am. You'd be surprised by how much a medical condition (ie chronic pain) can impair you, but it's completely legal to drive impaired by pain.

So blue...why a specific bill singling out marijuana? as far as I can tell the bill is just another way to discriminate against medical marijuana patients...second class citizens. You said yourself there is already a law that covers driving under the influence of marijuana. Where are the bills specifically written for narcotics, sleep aids, ssri inhibitors, amphetamines, etc?

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi like.author.displayName 1 Like

Bill defeated! Patients and all people with drivers licenses Win. Science and justice win.

1.This bill was premature (no car accident stats provided, let alone linking THC to them) -- kinda hard when the states deadly accidents are actually down. 2. This bill was reckless. It put EVERY licensed driver (drivers license, not mmj license) at risk of a blood draw. It also put 90% of all patients at risk of losing their right to drive by being charged with DUID. According to the CDPHE 90% of register patients qualify for mmj under debilitating pain, which means most medicate every 2-4 hours everyday.

Where is the study on how legal THC (for patients) could have affected Colorado's DECREASE in fatal car accidents?

Duncan20903
Duncan20903

"Irv Rosenfeld, who has been smoking GI cannabis continually for more than 30 years, is cleared by his doctor as safe to drive. I do think that the doctor is confusing enjoyment with impairment.

http://www.miamiherald.com/201...

"The physician says he regularly checked Rosenfeld to be sure he could safely drive after smoking marijuana and determined the drug didn’t make him high: “I don’t know why.”

hipcowboy420
hipcowboy420

It's pretty much the same with me I don't get that High anymore but it helps my pain & sleep. 

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