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THC driving bill may be hard to kill despite iffy science, senator says


According to Carroll, she hasn't seen any new research since last year to show that a per se limit when it comes to THC can be as predictable and effective as the one measuring alcohol, and if so, what it might be. "I've seen ranges from 5 to 20 nanograms, which is a profound range of variation," she notes. "And it's already against the law to drive intoxicated. So if you're going to add a pot per se, it's because you think you have enough scientific data to establish a point where people become impaired.

senator morgan carroll.jpg
Morgan Carroll.
"If that day ever comes for marijuana, we can realistically have this discussion. But as we heard in testimony before, and from what we've seen, there's no standardization in actual content of marijuana. People metabolize all over the board and medical marijuana patients with chronic pain or illness probably always have some THC in their system. And I don't think they should be criminalized for using medical marijuana."

Moreover, she continues, "we know that Oxycontin, Percocet, Valium and all kinds of prescription drugs can also be impairing. So I'm a little uncomfortable about picking and choosing pet causes and issues in an area like this. If we're going to take the law-enforcement perspective on this, I think it's only fair to take a scientific approach to anything that can impair you, not only marijuana."

If a marijuana per se or zero tolerance law passes, would patients be forced to choose between driving and using medical marijuana as recommended by a physician? "They'd be taking an enormous risk to come to any other conclusion," Carroll believes. "Not all people are willing to risk a criminal record to take their medicine. So you're putting people in an untenable spot. Of course, people shouldn't get behind the wheel when they're impaired. But when they're not impaired, they could still have THC in their blood -- and there's no gadget like a breathalyzer that would allow them to determine if they were impaired by using medical marijuana. That doesn't exist. So they're left with the choice of gambling even if they don't feel impaired."

Nonetheless, Carroll acknowledges that the idea of a THC-driving bill has a great deal of support, due in part to the difficulty of explaining the distinction between measuring alcohol and marijuana impairment. "People think, 'Oh, we don't want impaired people driving, and unless we pass this bill, there's nothing to stop them' -- which is factually false, because it's against the law right now. If you're observed driving in a way that shows you're impaired, you can be prosecuted. This is just a shortcut, where the prosecution doesn't have to offer any proof of impairment. The per se limit means they can pick a magic number -- and in this case, it would be magical, not scientific -- and then they don't have to provide any evidence of actual impairment."

Even so, Carroll believes that "the momentum is going to be with passage of this bill. It was quite an extraordinary effort to stop it last time -- and this time, the bill may get assigned differently."

What's that mean? According to Carroll, supporters may direct the bill to a committee on which she or other bill opponents sit, making it more difficult for them to present arguments against it. And if the measure gets out of committee, she suspects there's enough support among the senate as a whole for it to be approved.

"It's easy to mock," she concedes. "People assume this is really about bored frat boys misusing the state's medical marijuana laws. And as long as that perception is out there, it's going to be difficult to defeat."

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More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving limit: Task Force member says no recommendation wouldn't stop new bill."



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69 comments
Sanders20
Sanders20

Why is it that I NEVER read of a DUI Marijuana fatality but drunken driving deaths are littered across the newspaper? It seems a bit fishy to me.

leftover crack
leftover crack

who cares anymore? what a shit show everyone involved has allowed this to become, either thru action or inaction. your all guilty. colorado mmj is dead and has been born again as a circus and you're all the clowns. have fun with the feds you shit stains. no one has your back. not your state, not your city, not your county, not your municipality or even your industry peers. 'colorado mmj' has become laughable. fuck you all. kinda happy to see the feds gearing up to roll in and smash this shit show into the ground. you all deserve it.

Anonymous Cannabis
Anonymous Cannabis

As a medical patient, if they make driving illegal for me, I'll be forced to claim disability and I will begin collecting unemployment as a result.My medicine helps me survive and cope, where without I won't to the same degree.I suggest we all take this stand and tell our reps not to make being sick illegal again; it sucks enough already without their help.

We should nanny the poisons, the yucks, and garbage; not the treatments to cancers, pstd, autism, ADHD, severe pain, and Alzheimers. Cannabis is most likely the cure, but our backward regulation is only holding us back.

To complete this new nanny state all bars are now required to install metal detectors, if you arrive with keys, you are fined instantly on the spot. In addition, in order to possess an alcohol card, you must have a breathalizer installed in every automotive you own and if you fail once, your right to drink recreationally is permanently removed for life.It is whose right to decide anything? As much as I'm against alcohol, I believe it should be society. So if all of us agree the danger is everywhere, can we just spend our city budget on bubble wrap now?

Maybe its time we focus on the real killers on the road?If they don't stop treating my medical condition more serious than their right to liquid poison dispensaries on every city block in this drunken town, there will be more questions, ya dig?

Tomorrow, we push to legalize. Call your reps, and say since you won't allow us to medicate as patients, we will pass it without you, remove you and soon your entire alcohol support from our entire congress, which has only tried to push us back to the black market, when they are the ones which do not even deserve that place in a functioning society.

I'm sick, and if our representatives don't have the time to listen perhaps Coors crack team will tell them to back off as I form a lobby group to have their refreshments removed from all stadiums which could have minors exposed to their charms, and in the same way we'll get theirs removed from the entire public just like tobacco once was, and in my mind how it should be.

This is my fucking State too, for all the people, or without a few who aren't there for All the people!I think it's time to renegotiate a few rules, we really can't live without.

I am one of the hundreds of thousands of Cannabis Activists' in Colorado, who like my brothers and sisters, have decided not to be quiet, all for great reasons, but mainly just to live, as our constitution allows.

I hope to see the fight over against the sick and dying soon. Perhaps you will join, but statistically, you are one of millions which just point and laugh still. But maybe not anymore.

-Anonymous Cannabis

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

How much THC shall Airline Pilots, Brain Surgeons or Mohels be allowed to have in their systems when performing their duties ?

Pittypath
Pittypath

colorado has a stupid king like us in iowa!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

Be responsible, don't drive high.   Don't drive if you reek of burned pot even if you're not high. If in doubt, change your cloths, take a shower, and brush your teeth before heading out. Better yet, consume your medicine using a smoke free method. Keep your medicine in an airtight container and out of sight and not on your body if you're driving with it in your possession. Cops can pat you down whether you like it or not, but they can't search your car without your permission or a warrant. Never give your permission. Don't wear pro-marijuana apparel or have pro-marijuana bumper stickers on your car, you're just asking for police attention if you do. Don't be a cop magnet.Don't talk to the cops. They're not your friends, they're your adversaries. They have no interest in helping you, only themselves. Don't make small talk, don't volunteer information. Don't volunteer that you're a mmj patient unless the cops already have your medicine in their possession and you want it back. Their job is to write tickets and arrest people, your job is to avoid both.   Good luck.

AthomeRN
AthomeRN

Thank you Paul Armantano from NORML for introducing the unscientific 5ng/ml of whole blood per se limit to Clair Levy. Also a BIG thanx to Sean Mcallister of sensible Colorado for pushing for this arbitrary limit behind the scenes as to bolster fundamentally flawed initiative 30 for 2012. I can only assume your benefactors at the drug policy foundation will put all you uneducated criminal defense attorneys on retainer if they take over the "marijuana"market in Colorado. 

"(III) DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL;"

Why would you put such a sloppy sentence in an initiative to amend the constitution? Why would you place the estimated 150,000 medical marijuana patients in harms way just to achieve your monopoly??? Sensible Colorado is NOT a patients advocate group they are paid lobbyist funded by out of state interests who seek to corn the market. Patients should consider boycotting NORML, SENSIBLE and SAFER for that matter.

Pete
Pete

I think it is very interesting that WestWord is the only Denver paper doing any reporting on this issue.  Shame on the Post for not picking up this outrageous story.  Once people understand that a per se limit on MJ is a ban on driving for most constitutionally protected MMJ patients, I think reason will prevail.  But without more publicity in other news outlets, forget about it.  

Sciencefreak
Sciencefreak

Someone should give King a copy of the book, "Marijuana Gateway to Health." The only effective way to test for impairment is to test for impairment. There are regular smokers who evidence no signs of impairment at levels significantly above 5 nanograms. A recent survey of data found that sates with medical marijuana laws had a significant reduction in traffic accident deaths.

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson

These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.  The offenders will beleft to find their punishment in the public indignation.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

What about a Colorado cannabis week of silence in protest?  All the dispensaries close for a week, no news articles, no-one say a word.  Silence about cannabis for a week and watch what happens, it might have a profound impact.  High country Caregiver is calling for the cannabis week of silence starting on 4.21.12 - 4.28.12.

Jaded
Jaded

Thank you Senator Morgan Carroll.  Senator Carroll is correct that the law proposed has nothing to do with science. It is well known that thc stays in the blood for some time and the limits proposed would mean medical marijuana users would be unable to drive even if they are not impaired. No laws like this exist for any other medicine that have the potential to cause impairment and politicians should take the same educated position as Senator Carroll and refrain from supporting these types of bills until scientific research is done to prove a correlation between thc levels in the blood and impairment.  The mere presence of alcohol in your system doesn't mean you are drunk, and the mere presence of doctor recommended marijuana or narcotics in your system doesn't mean you are stoned.  Steve King and supporters, please stop discriminating against marijuana patients. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Members of the General Assembly work tirelessly, but there are not enough hours in the day to make bad laws.

Matt in Boulder
Matt in Boulder

Write your elected officials right now and tell them you will vote against their opponent in any future elections if they vote for the passage of this bill!  I'm not a single-issue voter, but I have already told Claire Levy that I will not vote for her again if she continued to pursue the initial bill she drafted. 

The bottom line on this is that if any elected official would vote for such an obviously flawed bill that stomps on individual civil liberties then there is no way of trusting them on any other issue.  Make sure you tell them that!  They are not going to read Westword blogs as part of their decision process...

Michelle LaMay
Michelle LaMay

 Kick this Steve King bum out. Obviously pandering to a ill-perceived constituency of voters in Garfield & Mesa Counties. He list his profession on the General Assembly web site as a "violent crime investigator!" Write the editors of all the news outlets in Garfield and Mesa Counties: Grand Junction to Carbondale and educate the editors & peeps! Call your friends over there also to put in their two cents on the lack of science on his phone & email: Cap: 303-866-3077 E-mail: steve.king.senate@state.co.

KaDargo
KaDargo

What problem is Representative Steve King trying to solve?  I read and see in the news all the time about all the problems that drunks cause on the road.  I rarely read or see anyting in the news about any problems that stoners are causeing on the roads. 

Don't misunderstand.  I don't support anyone driving impaired, but more importantly, I don't support anyone, who is innocent, being persicutied out of fear of what might happen.

Representative Steve King, if you are looking to make the road safer, how about stopping the bars and breweries from enabling impaired drivers being on the road?  How about forcing those business to close?  There's lots of data that suggests that there is a problem there!  How many more of us have to die from impaired drivers who just left the bar?  Close them and close them now!

No, that won't stop drivers from being on the raod impaired, but why make it easy for them to make these bad decisions?  How many people really call a cab when leaving bars, breweries, or sporting events that are servring alcohol?  Not many from what I see in the news.

Guesto
Guesto

I remember when I ran into Bob Beauprez at the gas station 9 years ago, these local politicians have to show their faces eventually. 

Guesto
Guesto

when demagogues can shape society against everything science is telling us the people have obviously lost complete control over themselves . 

Ron Paul 2012 

LarryQ5
LarryQ5

It's a damn shame that Mr. King, a representative hired by and paid for by the people, doesn't even take the time to answer a question or two from those same people! Are you afraid Mr. King that you will be exposed as the self centered jackass that you are? You have no reason to pursue this other than to inflate your ego on an issue that has no basis in fact. You have sucessfully established yourself as the newest Colorado Pot Clown. Why don't you try and do the work of the people and earn your paycheck instead of grandstanding and advancing your own personal adjenda?

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

My friends male 22, and female 21 were driving from Colorado Springs to Breckenridge on Friday night.  At 7:20 pm they were pulled over by Teller County female deputy for alleged swerving. on HWY 24 near Florrisant, CO. The officer approached the vehicle and said she's allowed to search the car when pulling someone over for swerving.  My friend, the male driver reused to let her search.  She asked, "do you have a medical marijuana card"?  He replied yes.  She asked "is there marijuana in the car"?, he replied yes.  She called 2 more Sheriff Deputies to the scene and they harassed him to death to let him search the car, he was scared and finally agreed.  They did a road side sobriety test, found no marijuana in the car, only a grinder with flakes of herb.  They claimed he failed the road side, arrested him for DWAI, took him to the hospital for a blood draw, then took him to the Teller County Jail and he had to post $1000 bond to get out.  He was charged with possession of marijuana because his medical marijuana card was 3 months expired and DWAI.  This will be my friends second DWAI for marijuana in a 4 year time frame.

Fuck the police coming straight from the underground! Anyone who supports this bill deserves to be dragged out of their home in front of their children and shot in the head! This will be the consequence of your decision!

Milehighgrowers
Milehighgrowers

I agree. I payed every MMJ attorney to help me, went to every nonprofit for assistance and was left hung out to dry by them all. All they could say is "your not dying of cancer" so no one really cares. Truth is they didn't care enough. What a joke the cannabis industry is. I have been a cannabis grower for 21 years and was a fool to waste my dime to go legal.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

-- those are somewhat different cases than the issue before us.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

One more thing, they can search your car after they arrest you.  One defense in a traffic stop is to ask "am I under arrest?"  If they say 'no', the they can't search you.

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

your argument lacks liberty, not much freedom in your paragraph either

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Sean McCannabis and other Colorado pot clowns stand to make a lot of money in defending DWAI's that's why.

Pete
Pete

To clarify, the Post is not doing any investigative reporting of the William Breathes variety that makes the issue crystal clear!

Badge
Badge

Why test for impairment when you can be forced to give a blood sample and sent to jail without proof you were driving impaired? It's good to be the police. You will be detained and prosecuted at the discretion of law enforcement. Later "medical" marijuana "patients."

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Don't you have some Negro slaves to abuse and fornicate with ?

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

It's a great honor to have you weigh in, Mr. President. Thanks for posting.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

If the indignation of the ~20% of Coloradans who use cannabis is the only threat the prohibitionists face, their depredations on liberty will continue.

Miguel Lopez
Miguel Lopez

I met with my elected officials both Senator Steadman & Rep Farrindino they also agreed, with the very same thing. Its not that we are against responsible driving, we are against  Governor Hickenloopers and law enforcements un founded and bias campaign.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

There will never be ANY rational behind pot laws.  Peter Tosh said "legalize it don't criticize it" because cannabis drives man crazy.  When put before a large body of humans like the Colorado General Assembly cannabis will always win and make people make crazy decisions.  Cannabis was brought here by aliens for humans who know the use of the sacred herb.  Tosh said don't criticize it because it drives humans to make crazy decisions.  No rational, just craziness which will never end.  We must legalize, medical marijuana and regulated cannabis must go, both are a failure and all the criticism is just creating more and more crazy problems.

right of center
right of center

Steve is using the tried and true method of the Democrats to get his name in the news. It's interesting this Republican is going after more regulation. He must not have any taxes to cut.

Bob Hoban
Bob Hoban

King is annex cop and has a drug warrior agenda.

fucking nobody
fucking nobody

Yes, the taxpayers pay his salary. Who, I wonder, pays for his  golf outings, hunting trips? Did the Chevy dealer give him a loaner car, and forget to ask for it back, in hopes that he will sponsor a bill that they would like?  Did Big Pharm give him a call, and invite him down to the keys,on his private jet, for a fishing trip? ' By the way, Steve, we here at Oxy, Inc. don't like the direction your state is taking with the wacky tobaccy.' Lobbyists have much louder votes than John Q. Public. You all might pay his salary, but find out who pays his rent.

Billy1324
Billy1324

High Country Caregiver,

Sounds like you and your friends are nothing more than common criminals who deserve to be severely penalized for not following the law. Especially for having a controlled substance with an expired card.

Your friend wouldn't have gotten pulled over if he wasn't swerving, and since he got charged with DWAI his blood draw probably came back hot. If he didn't have a legal card then he might as well have been driving high on cocaine. He deserves everything he gets.

If he got his pot from you, I would be concerned about him offering to bust his drug dealer for the cops.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Rule #1 -- Don't EVER consent to a search. If the cops have probable cause, let them get a warrant. Always REFUSE consent, clearly and unambiguously.

Rule #2 -- Don't discuss any private, personal issue with cops, like your Medical status,

Rule #3 -- Don't EVER confess to having ANY contraband in the vehicle, no matter how small the amount.

Rule #4 -- Don't EVER confess to having consumed ANY alcohol or drugs.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

You know that there is only one appropriate response to such conduct on the part of the highwaymen running amok on our roads, but most people are not prepared to sacrifice their lives for freedom, and those that are are sent to fight for corporate interests overseas.

C4cpr
C4cpr

mistake #1: ALLOWING A SEARCH, (POLICE DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEARCH YOUR CAR WITHOUT A WARRANT dispite what they say) mistake #2: TALKING TO  THE POLICE. mistake 3#:: EXPIRED CARD need I say more...

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

A distinction without a difference.

So is there a functional physical or mental impairment or not ?

Pick a horse ... and stay on it.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

In practical terms, they can and do.  The "plain view" doctrine means in practice that if police can get it out into their plain view, they can steal it.  I would not care to speculate on how many trunks have been opened from the inside over the objections of motorists, but I am certain that it is substantial.  All traffic stops should be halted until the technology is put in place to document every instant.

Guest
Guest

Better than the liberty you'd receive behind bars.

Stan
Stan

Actually, Anonymous has some sound advice, and it is consistent with what the majority of defense attorneys would tell you.  Your vague swipe at Anonymous adds nothing of value to the conversation.  Liberty and freedom have nothing to do with avoiding a bust or a confiscated stash. 

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The Post does not do investigative reporting; all their efforts go into yellow journalism.

fucking nobody
fucking nobody

Or, better yet, get ahold of a bunch of dispensaries and grows, get them to build a school or rec center in GJ, and name it after Kings wife. Then, ask him to rethink this 'Driving while Stoned' bill.

Sanders20
Sanders20

Your comments are simply retarded. A medical card makes no difference concerning how he drives his car. It does not make you drive better by having a medical card verses driving worse without one. Pot should be 100% legal for all to use, not just the smucks with medical cards. I use pot for insomnia, for me to get a card in CO I would have to lie and make up some symptom or condition I do not have. Just because you possess a medical card does not mean you can drive stoned and others cannot, it makes no difference you moron. I am tired of the dispensaries getting in the way of the legalization effort. Just wait and see if you medical card does you any good the next time you get pulled over if the cop asks for you blood, wont make one bit of a difference.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Another mistake was answering the question "Do you have an MMJ card".

That's PRIVATE HIPPA protected medical information, copper, and I don't discuss my personal medical issues with strangers.

Rob Corry
Rob Corry

Not true probable cause is all they need and swerving is probable cause.

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

No sir, you need not say more.  On paper those defenses work great, but in reality it never works out that way.  This is why I pointed out that they were young and scared.  I told this story because it is my best attempt to educate against police interrogation.  I think we must remind ourselves and even go so far as to practice counter-interrogation with one another to avoid this kind of thing and let police know that we're not going to take it, no we ain't gonna take it, we're not gonna take it anymore!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

" your examples are of people who have direct responsibility for other's safety ..."

As does ANYONE who gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle on a public roadway.

So, if marijuana does not cause any detrimental physical or mental impairment, why not let Airline Pilots and Neurosurgeons operate with the same levels of THC in their systems?

Where in the Constitution does it say that Pilots or Surgeons have fewer civil liberties than other citizens?

"I doubt that circumsizing [sic] infants is quite so exacting."

Whatever you say, shorty.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

There is not impairment which leads to more traffic fatalities -- so indicates the science.  The number of people flying commercial aircraft and doing brain surgery is somewhat less than that of people who drive, your examples are of people who have direct responsibility for other's safety, and flying a plane or performing brain surgery are somewhat more demanding than driving a car.  These profound differences merit greater caution and might justify more of an intrusion into the civil liberties of members of the first two professions you mentioned.  I doubt that circumcising infants is quite so exacting.

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

this country is fucked up. 

High Country Caregiver
High Country Caregiver

Damn I know this country is f-ed up when even Robert Chase is afraid the 1st Amendment is dead!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I do not want to be arrested before the revolution begins.

I fought HB11-1261, and I will be there when King tries to foist this crap on us all over again.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Swerving is NOT probable cause to SEARCH the vehicle.

Swerving is probable cause to stop the vehicle.

HTH

Gary Rose
Gary Rose

it happened in Ogden Utah, just recently in fact

fucking nobody
fucking nobody

How about,instead of threatening the cops and lawmakers with death, which isn't going to,number one, work,number two, happen anyway, you offer free or low cost classes on dealing with the cops? Partner with a few dispensaries, put up flyers, and be proactive?

The cops are under no obligation to inform you of your rights, other than Miranda, during an arrest or traffic stop. The best thing you can do for yourself, when faced with such a situation, is, under no circumstances, no matter what they say to you, do not forget what treacherous motherfuckers they are.

It would be nice if a well thought out and fair bill could be passed for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, there needs to be a method in place for fair and accurate testing, which probably exists, but no police department will be allowed to spring for. Not while King and his ilk are holding the cards. Pot smokers simply aren't PC, and that, my friends, is way too goddamn important to so many misguided people.

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