Marijuana working group decides not to recommend specific THC driving limits

strawberry cough marijuana on a plate.jpg
The DUID-marijuana working group, formed under the auspices of the state's Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, met yesterday afternoon to consider recommendations about setting THC driving standard. After about three hours of hashing out a lot about hash, members eventually decided not to back a specific blood limit.

Most members of the group seemed to support a per-se level at which a person would be considered intoxicated due to ganja consumption. But differing opinions about how high or low that limit should be, or if it would do anything at all to protect the general public, kept that discussion at a stalemate, forcing the group to move forward only with the suggestion that the matter be revisited in the future when more data is available.

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Sean McAllister.
The group's suggestions will be presented next Wednesday to the Drug Policy Task Force, which in turn will give its suggestions to the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice. The CCJJ was the group originally charged with examining the issue after House Bill 1261 was defeated last April.

The marijuana working group is comprised of marijuana attorney Sensible Colorado co-founder Sean McAllister, Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, Heather Garwood of the Colorado Judicial Department, Christine Flavia from the Division of Behavioral Health, Colorado Springs cop Rod Walker, Eagle County DA Mark Hurlbert, drug-addiction counselor Laura Spicer, and the Medical Marijuana Industry Group's Michael Elliott.

This hodgepodge caused a stir earlier this month after their meetings seemingly flew under the radar of local activists, who insist they were conducted in secret and are a violation of open meetings laws (read Michael Roberts's coverage here and here). The activists had their chance to speak their mind this round, with Robert Chase, Kathleen Chippi, Corey Donahue and caregiver Timothy Tipton all giving the board a piece of their frustrated minds. Several people brought up the legality of past meetings, with Chase arguing that the group should start all six meetings over to allow for more public comment.

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Mark Hurlbert.
The activists continued to show their disapproval of the proceedings throughout the meeting, reacting loudly at times to comments they didn't like. Chase, for example, was told to be quiet or leave after he corrected Robinson, who had said a large majority of patients are "twenty-somethings males." According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the average age for a male cardholder is forty.

After the comments, members went into a lengthy discussion, touching on various points they had agreed on in earlier meetings. Among them: the need for more in-the-field Drug Recognition Experts (DRE), making offenders pay for the associated legal costs, and supporting public education programs -- all of which were later approved to move forward as suggestions to the task force.

However, the group couldn't come to a consensus on whether or not blood levels are an indicator of intoxication. McAllister argued again and again that the data from a key study was an insufficient basis for a law. He pointed to parts of the same research that said impairment might occur with an individual with just 2 nanograms per milliliter of blood, while another person might be unimpaired until he registered 15 nanograms. McAllister also said a per-se limit would do little for public safety, since law enforcement wouldn't be able to get the results of a blood test on the spot. A better use of resources, he said, would be for more DREs in the field.

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Grayson Robinson.
Garwood couldn't back a per-se limit, either -- not because she felt the data wasn't there to support it, but because she felt the 5 nanogram limit would be too high and that it would promote people smoking pot and driving as a result. Given the amount of time it normally takes to get a blood sample drawn on a DUI suspect, she felt a 2 nanogram limit was more appropriate.

Her lower-levels idea stuck with Hurlbert, who argued for the per-se limits. He said that driving while drugged is a growing issue that several other district attorneys have noticed as well. Though he said it wasn't likely that driving under the influence of marijuana was widespread, he feared it could become commonplace.

Robinson was also against a per-se limit, though reluctantly so. He said it less to do with the science than with his concern that the federal government would withhold federal highway dollars from the state for supporting anything other than zero tolerance.

"Last year, I supported the 5 nanogram limit, and I supported it strongly," he said. "I'm not sure that we are going to see, coming into the next legislative session, anyone that would be willing to push forward with administrative sanctions and consequences because of the always looming fiscal threat. I believe we should have a per-se law in the state of Colorado, but sadly, I'm not sure I know what that nanongram limit is. Frankly, that is my biggest difficulty with this process."

Robinson said the group's findings and suggestions would be typed up in a format consistent with the CCJJ and distributed to group members by Friday evening. The group will present their findings at the Drug Policy Task Force meeting next Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Dr. Eric Hatch's Dougco court case could challenge dispensary bans."

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36 comments
Troy Barber
Troy Barber

Everyone should exercise caution in using the word "intoxicant" in these discussions. Marijuana is non-toxic, and therefore cannot be an "intoxicant". Instead, we should be referring to levels of "impairment" as it applies to developing DUID standards.

It is important that we use the right terms, and make these distinctions. Alcohol is an intoxicant, marijuana is not.

Jason Lauve
Jason Lauve

This is a good thing, but keep your eye's and ears open foranother attempt.

 

Now what are MMIG and Law Enforcement going to do about thepropagandist "Drugged Driving is Impaired Driving" that discriminatesagainst Cannabis Patients? It has already caused its own damage!

 

Anyone up for a lawsuit against this campaign? Is is very prejudiceand I believe it to be a violation of our Civil Rights.

Highmesa
Highmesa

And a very special THANK YOU to all activists that exposed these tyrants !

Robert Chase,YOU ROCK DUDE !

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

What masquerades as a reasoned consideration of a threat to public safety on our roads has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with raw, economic self-interest -- MMCs are a very visible sort of economic activity, and there is an enormous inertial tendency to see the people working hard in State or State-supported jobs maintaining Prohibition as just responsible members of society (not as an economic bloc).  In what manner and to what degree the alcohol-industry supports our enemies would be good to know, but the prohibition of cannabis and CDOT's fear campaign on the roads work to its benefit.  Besides the issue of the entrenched position of alcohol, there are all the parasites whose personal income derives from it, or whose profession depends for its maintenance or continued growth on Prohibition -- these account for six of the eight members of the Marijuana Per Se Working Group:  one Sheriff, two DAs, a representative of Colorado's Judicial Department, one from Behavioral Health (our good friends at the CDPHE again), and Laura Spicer, who works at a counseling center to which the courts compulsorily refer adolescents caught with cannabis (see:  http://rangeviewcounselingcent... -- in the interest of fairness, the Director estimates that such work comprises 10-15% of their business) -- she is a piece of work!  This woman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that she encouraged her child to ride his bicycle into a pedestrian crosswalk just as some driver using cannabis tried to make a right turn with the light -- what Ms. Spicer was describing was criminal child abuse which she committed against her own son, and the stoned driver, to his credit, did not hit the bicyclist violating the right-of-way.  Spicer's is very much a prohibitionist, and she is Vice-Chair of the Boulder Democratic (Fascist) Party!!!

P.S.  See:  http://www.bouldercountydems.o.... Do Democrats in Boulder County support this prohibitionist as their second-in-command?!? Write to them and ask (e-mail addresses for Party functionaries are at the link above) -- Chair Dan Gould's is chair@bouldercountydems.orgWrite to Ms. Spicer at:  vicechair@bouldercountydems.org

William Breathes
William Breathes

Thanks for your comments everyone. I know there will be a lot more coverage of this issue in the next few weeks and it was very interesting to hear the comments from everyone at the meeting yesterday as well.

BingoBob
BingoBob

I think zero tolerance is the best bet for any drugs including the prescriptions from your doctor. There are so many people driving around on man made drugs that have a side effects list longer than the credits in Lord of the Rings.  This really disappoints me as a denver medical marijuana patient. If they want to have a regulation on my prescription they should have a regulation on all prescriptions! 

WW fan
WW fan

Nice report, William Breathes! Was there any talk on whether this group decided to comply with the Open Meetings Laws or do they still insist that they are exempt?

Will they be posting minutes from this last meeting? Will they be available to the public?

Is this group disbanding, or will they meet again in the future?

What about the rumored secret advisory vote mentioned in the Rober Chase video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

Was there a vote of any kind taken?

Thanks for all the information! WW ROCKS! The ONLY reporting of the meeting in the state from the only Denver print newspaper left!

KaDargo
KaDargo

Oh and thanks to Robert Chase, Kathleen Chippi, Corey Donahue and caregiver Timothy Tipton for taking the time to protect the MMJ community from the ignorant operating from the fear and lies that have been spread over the last 80 pulse years by those who seek capital gain by keeping a far less harmful substance at bay.  It never ceases to amaze me how many decisions are made by those who are not qualified to make them.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

One point that I think was missed in the story, was the fact that they all agreed that cannabis DUI's start at level 2 counseling which Laura Spicer, who is a drug addiction councilor, argued for, presumably she will make a pretty penny counseling you on why your a bad person because you smoked and drove. 

Also even with out the per se levels 5th districts DA Mark Hurlbert said that the conviction rates for cannabis DUI's is around 95% later to be corrected to 90%.  So they don't need this to convict you, they need per se limit to convict you easier.  Hey at least it will save the government money when they have a arbitrary number to tell you your guilty, because it's hard for them to prove your guilt at a 90% conviction rate.

And Grayson Robinson simply put they are running out of money for the drug policy task force. They are running out of money because with out cannabis people to criminalize they cant justify their budget.

So everyone in that meeting has a wonderful reason to want a ng level per se limit, because making you a criminal makes them money.   

KaDargo
KaDargo

I vote that our government do more to reduce the number of problems (that I read about almost daily) that drunks cause.  I rarely read about problems stoners cause. 

They are wasting tax dollars by working on a low level problem while alcohol seems to cause far more problems. 

Why are bars and breweries allowed to impair people who then end up on our roads?  Why not put more effort in that problem?  I vote to close bars and breweries and force people to consume their alcohol at home where they will be less of a problem.  That won't stop people from being on the raod impaired, but allowing places to exist where people can drive up to, become impaired, then drive away in insane.  Isn't it time to stop that madness?

Renee Donahue
Renee Donahue

How did Corey Donahue not get arrested? Last I heard he was a wanted fugitive.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

The Per-Se aspect of this is the worst part.  There is no solid science that proves impairment on the spot for mmj like the breathalyzer for alcohol.  The nanogram limits DO NOT WORK due to all of the variables.

Funny how they say that driving under the influence of MMJ wasn't widespread, but they "feared it could become commonplace."  The MMJ explosion is over 2 years old and we haven't seen an explosion of accidents directly related to MMJ.  Wonder why that is...

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Way to go Robert!  Clobber the pigs and the narcs!  I want to see the video....

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I cannot agree -- "intoxicate" as "poison" is archaic usage.

(From the COED), an intoxicant is a substance which causes someone to lose control of their faculties or behavior, but by connototation, something wich excites or exhilarates.

We might use "psychedelic" -- "mind-manifesting". except that that word has come to mean "drugs (especially LSD) that produce hallucinations and apparent expansion of consciousness", which may be misleading when used in reference to cannabis.  A good case might be made for "entheogen" -- "a chemical substance, typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a nonordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes" -- but the word is unfamiliar to most.

I am a stickler for the use of "cannabis" in preference to "marijuana" and all the other pejorative terms used for it, but the situation regarding "intoxicant" is substantially different -- I consider that we are not likely to carry the argument that cannabis is not intoxicating, because it is in the commonly understood meaning of the word.  We should be sensitive to this usage though, and insist on the fact that cannabis is a very different sort of intoxicant than alcohol (or any other drug, though the interaction apparent between cannabis and psychedelics militates for its inclusion in that category).

Chronic420
Chronic420

Excellent point, Troy. We should also refrain from using the term "marijuana", as it is a racist term invented in the 1920s for the Reefer Madness campaign to demonize cannabis.

crandle
crandle

When I was taking lunesta I was driving while in a comotose state. Talk about scary. Where are the laws testing for sleep aids and other prescription drugs? On lexapro I would drive to work and would have no memory of the drive upon arriving...completely legal.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

That isn't just rhetoric either -- many, many drugs which no one thinks of as drugs of abuse or would suspect of being impairing are very much so.  The two primary drugs dangerously impairing drivers in Colorado are alcohol and prescribed medicines.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Thanks for the thanks, but we four are completely incapable of adequately representing the interests of the hundreds of thousands of Colorado drivers who have driven after using cannabis, nor did our presence alter the outcome.  I tried to beat the drum, and the State did station three troopers at the entrance to see whether anyone showed up, but it was just the usual suspects -- there is a group of about six activists who ever consistently show up for such meetings and hearings, and this sends the clear message that the prohibitionists can proceed to do whatever they'd planned to anyway (with a litlle yipping coming from the vicinity of their heels).  There was not even a single representative from e.g. SAFER there to explain that cannabis is safer than alcohol.

An interesting point that has come out of this is that some prohibitionists lack enthusiasm for the per se limit unless they can get administrative sanctions against those who refuse blood tests similar to those against people who refuse breath-tests into the measure.  Despite applying the principle that the so-called offender should pay for the cost of his or her persecution, it turns out that there is a significant administrative cost to the State to yank people's driver's licenses, and this may be a significant impediment to the progress of this lunacy -- this is something to watch!

Renee Donahue
Renee Donahue

@5531419a009e2aad9df8091a3bf24fe9:disqus Did you steal anything while you were at this place? That is your proven modus operandi after all.

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Good comment, how does my personal vendetta against Corey Donahue not get carried out that was the point of the story.  Aces on your thinking.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Fatalities have decreased during this period.  It will be interesting to see whether this trend reverses as Hick promotes our alcohol-peddlers and the campaign against cannabis continues -- if so, there will probably be some lag, and voters won't blame any of those responsible.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Cheech and Chong taught us how to drive stoned in High School.  In every one of those guys movies they are laughing and smoking and having fun! 

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

Oh James McVaney you are such a sad sad man.  Did you go and speak up for no only cannabis users but for everyone's rights yesterday or ever?

Renee Donahue
Renee Donahue

Paranoid much Corey? So are you still a wanted criminal, or, now just a common criminal awaiting trial on multiple charges?

Guest Who
Guest Who

you must have never seen any Cheech and Chong movies. they were terrible drivers. 

Jerome
Jerome

You are a whack job, Corey "Nut Job" Donahue.

In the time since this article was posted you have committed and been convicted of multiple crimes ranging from sexual assault to inciting a riot. You calling someone a 'sad sad man(sic)' is pretty funny.

Jamesmcvaney
Jamesmcvaney

Rrr... I give up... Sorry for the formatting issues.

Jamesmcvaney
Jamesmcvaney

Hmmm... somehow that PM did not have the proper line spacing and indentation. Sorry for hard read. :( Let me try that again.

No, Robert, that is not me. Someone informed me of my name being mentioned on here, otherwise I wouldn't be posting in the WW. You know that. I think these anonymous forums are toxic and only hurt people. BTW: Great job on the DUID group. Did you ever get a chance to make those signs we briefly talked about? If not, perhaps you can use the unfortunate lack of resources as a call to action for potential donors to your .org...As for Correy, I find him to be a complete boor, and outright harmful to pretty much anyone he crosses path with. He seems to jag on me for not being a reckless and freckless advocate like him.  Foremost, I am a disabilities rights advocate. Its a big difference. I care about people I'll never meet, while all Ass-Clown Correy only seems to care about making an ass out of himself and all those around him. smh. 

Furthermore, I don't have to get on the Westword blogs and announce to the world everything I do - while Correy is more than apparently happy to announce to the whole world, in any manner available, that he just pissed his pants - and somehow that this is everyone else's fault because the laws did not allow him to openly pee in front of everybody. The contrast between me and Correy Donahue could not be any starker. 

@Correy Donahue - You proved your integrity, or lack therefor, towards the cause and people numerous times. You self-admittingly stoled from me and hurt countless others (BTW: Did I ever press that class 4 felony against you? No, because it would make your college degree in International Relations worthless. And I'm just not the type of person that wants to destroy someone, apparently, unlike you.) Your actions and willingness to repeatedly engage in these harmful actions, really cause me to rue the day I ever met you. smh.

BTW: You know Laura Kirho called me one of the hardest working advocates in the State,  Your judgments of me mean less than nothing. But go ahead and attack me. That's all you seem capable of.

Not your friend,~James

Jamesmcvaney
Jamesmcvaney

No, Robert, that is not me. Someone informed me of my name being mentioned on here, otherwise I wouldn't be posting in the WW. You know that. I think these anonymous forums are toxic and only hurt people. BTW: Great job on the DUID group. Did you ever get a chance to make those signs we briefly talked about? If not, perhaps you can use the unfortunate lack of resources as a call to action for potential donors to your .org...As for Correy, I find him to be a complete boor, and outright harmful to pretty much anyone he crosses path with. He seems to jag on me for not being a reckless and freckless advocate like him.  Foremost, I am a disabilities rights advocate. Its a big difference. I care about people I'll never meet, while all Ass-Clown Correy only seems to care about making an ass out of himself and all those around him. smh. Furthermore, I don't have to get on the Westword blogs and announce to the world everything I do - while Correy is more than apparently happy to announce to the whole world, in any manner available, that he just pissed his pants - and somehow that this is everyone else's fault because the laws did not allow him to openly pee in front of everybody. The contrast between me and Correy Donahue could not be any starker. @Correy Donahue - You proved your integrity, or lack therefor, towards the cause and people numerous times. You self-admittingly stoled from me and hurt countless others (BTW: Did I ever press that class 4 felony against you? No, because it would make your college degree in International Relations worthless. And I'm just not the type of person that wants to destroy someone, apparently, unlike you.) Your actions and willingness to repeatedly engage in these harmful actions, really cause me to rue the day I ever met you. smh.BTW: You know Laura Kirho called me one of the hardest working advocates in the State,  Your judgments of me mean less than nothing. But go ahead and attack me. That's all you seem capable ofNot your friend,~James

Corey Donahue
Corey Donahue

 Ladies, gentleman what we are witnessing here is the classic example of a troll.  The story was about how regular citizens went to protest and speak out against something that will negativity affect us all and how this may have caused the per se limit to be droped. But this person, James McVaney, tries to make me look like the bad guy here.  Remember I went yesterday because I didn't want to see us all be fucked, but I guess this is not good enough for this not so anonymous person. 

Guest Who
Guest Who

I dont own a bus but they guy who drives "my Bus" is usually either Craig or Jim depending on the day. 

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Hard to argue with that, Guest Who. Thanks for the post.

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