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Marijuana advocates prepare to fight THC driving bill

steve king cropped.jpg
Steve King.
Senator Steve King's proposed THC driving bill, which would set an intoxication standard of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood for medical marijuana patients and a zero-tolerance level for non-patients, is up for discussion on Monday.

And opponents are gearing up for a fight.

A similar bill was shelved last year after activists argued it would essentially put the brakes on driving for all medical marijuana patients. Though this version of the bill does give some consideration to medical marijuana patients who develop a tolerance level and may store active THC in their system for longer periods of time, critics have argued that the science to establish a five-nanogram baseline just doesn't exist and that setting the bar so low could criminalize legal MMJ patients.

One of those critics is Democratic senator Morgan Carroll of Aurora who told our Michael Roberts back in January that she still hasn't seen enough science to support a nanogram limit.

"I've seen ranges from five to twenty nanograms, which is a profound range of variation," she noted. "And it's already against the law to drive intoxicated. So if you're going to add pot per se, it's because you think you have enough scientific data to establish a point where people become impaired."

Another critic was me. When last year's bill was proposed, I took a series of blood tests while sober to see if I would blow past the five-nanogram limit. And I did -- by a lot. Even after more than twelve hours without medicating and a full night's sleep, leaving me unimpaired according to a licensed physician, I tested at nearly three times the proposed limit, with about 13.5 nanograms of active THC still lingering in my system.

King has told media outlets in Grand Junction that the evidence backing the proposal is "in the blood of innocent people killed by DUI-D drivers." Keep in mind this is the same guy who argued that his friend, Representative Laura Bradford, was "innocent until proven guilty" of a DUI even though she admitted to having a few drinks before her recent traffic stop debacle. "I believe you're innocent until proven guilty, and I believe that it's unfortunate that she didn't have the opportunity to prove her innocence," he told Grand Junction's Channel 11.

King has declined past Westword interview requests on the bill, saying he didn't have time to talk about the proposal. But he'll definitely be talking about it on Monday, when Senate Bill 117 is slated for discussion before the Senate's State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m. at the Capitol.

If you're planning on testifying, Twirling Hippy Confections founder Jessica LeRoux is organizing a coaching session tonight at 7:30 p.m. to help refine your two-minute speech and make sure it's in sync with other speakers. Get more info in the release below:

"Come to a meeting to prepare for SB12-117 DUID hearing on Thursday the 23rd at the offices of Edson Maytin Matz, 3888 E Mexico Ave, Denver CO conference room, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. We will be strategizing our testimonies and offering coaching to get testimony into 2 minutes blocks which are complimentary rather than redundant. Please attend and bring a friend, plenty of free parking! Please share this status and spread the word, we need bodies at the CO state Capitol on Monday the 27th to testify against SB12-117 the DUID blood nanogram bill."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Could Fort Collins ban lead to hundreds of new home grows?" and "Medical marijuana registry numbers see small increase at end of 2011."


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20 comments
Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Current DUI Law in Colorado

42-4-1301. Driving under the influence - driving while impaired - driving with excessive alcoholic content 

(1) (a) It is a misdemeanor for any person who is under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, to drive a motor vehicle or vehicle. 

(b) It is a misdemeanor for any person who is impaired by alcohol or by one or more drugs, or by a combination of alcohol and one or more drugs, to drive a motor vehicle or vehicle. 

(c) It is a misdemeanor for any person who is an habitual user of any controlled substance defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., to drive a motor vehicle, vehicle, or low-power scooter in this state. 

(d) For the purposes of this subsection (1), one or more drugs shall mean all substances defined as a drug in section 12-22-303 (13), C.R.S., and all controlled substances defined in section 12-22-303 (7), C.R.S., and glue-sniffing, aerosol inhalation, and the inhalation of any other toxic vapor or vapors. 

(e) The fact that any person charged with a violation of this subsection (1) is or has been entitled to use one or more drugs under the laws of this state, including, but not limited to, the medical use of marijuana pursuant to section 18-18-406.3, C.R.S., shall not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this subsection 

===========

As you can see, currently ANY level of marijuana could be illegal, and the "habitual user of" does not require one to be under the influence or impaired. The mere fact that one is a "habitual user of" bans that person from driving, even if sober.

Under Federal law, that same "habitual user of" standard criminalizes the purchase or possession of any firearm.

Note that in Colorado "vehicles" include BICYCLES, BOATS, GOLF CARTS and HORSES, etc. The charge and penalties for DUI on a bicycle are the same as for a car.

Also note that the legislature saw fit to prohibit "low power scooters" for "habitual users of controlled substances" while not mentioning scooters for drunks and pharma drug users.

Denver Dispensary Advocate
Denver Dispensary Advocate

Medical marijuana is medicine.  How can the state make a decision on how much medicine is too much?  I think this is an obvious symptom of the state taking liberties with medicine for patients.  I've been using medical marijuana in Denver for 2 years for chronic joint pain.  Rhemotoid arthritis can be quite painful.  Thankfully I get relief this way.  I guess I hope that the state gets smarter about how to treat medical marijuana patients in colorado.

GetReal
GetReal

We are are told that in this country, we are innocent until proven guilty, yet once again, more evidence shows that we are actually punished until proven innocent.  If you think otherwise, try being out on bond after being falsely arrested and charged.

If this bill passes, that's exactly what will happen.  MMJ patients will be punished until proven innocent and being able to prove their innocence will be very difficult given the assumption that will be built in.

Krymsun
Krymsun

For more effective impact, instead of only 'preaching to the choir', why not also share these pages of opinions with your congress-critters, both Senators and Representatives? If everyone who reads this and similar would find more articles, both pro and con, and email them and especially the comments to the legislative branch of the federal government (the only ones who can change the law), it'd have more chance of achieving the desired result.  

GetReal
GetReal

Meanwhile, bars and breweries continue to enable impaired drivers to be on the road.  How about working on THAT problem.  I see in the news all the time about the problems drunks are causing on the roads.  I rarely read anything about problems stoners are causing. Closing dispensaries doesn't stop people from driving up to a bar, go inside, get impaired, then drive off.  I vote we close the bars too!

Brandt Hardin
Brandt Hardin

Marijuana is the safest drug with actual benefits for theuser as opposed to alcohol which is dangerous, causes addiction, birth defects,and affects literally every organ in the body. Groups are organizing all over the country to speak their minds on reformingpot laws.  I drew up a very cool poster featuringUncle Willie Nelson and The Teapot Party for the cause which you can check outon my artist’s blog at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot...  Drop in and let me know what you think!

Lady
Lady

please come to the meeting at 3888 E Mexico tonight if you want to help, We will be identifying who wants to cover the many topics our side needs to address from science to gender disparity, to fiscal impact, and breaking into groups to allow people to focus on their issue and make sure that all people who want to testify next monday have their testimony down to a confident 2 minute bite, and that we use our numbers effectively to do 2 minutes each in a way that is complimentary instead of all saying the same stuff over and over. If you wanna testify but are nervous, come out, we will get you ready to impress.

Moontime101
Moontime101

Be sure to take all the drugged up rich stay at home mom's off the road too then.  Don't forget about all the people taking prescription drugs and getting behind the wheel.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

This is how you can relate it to those boozers up in the Capitol:

Passing this law would be like You drinking a beer today, then getting pulled over and arrested for a DUI tomorrow. It does not make sense! (unless your last name is Bradford and you invoke some obscure law to drink and drive)

You have to paint them a picture.  WB are you up for another blood test???jk. Patients everywhere appreciated the pain with your stomach that you went through last year for us. It really made an impact!

PS. We have a form letter you can send to your Reps. Check it out on our forum: http://www.coloradomedicalmari...

Not again
Not again

I don't know of any other MEDICINE with a blood limit.  Prescription narcotics and antidepressants are psychoactive medications similar to marijuana and there are no laws singling out patients that use the medications.  1 in 10 americans take antidepressants, a psychoactive, and then drive.  Where are the laws taking away their right to drive?  DUI laws already exist on the books to cover driving impaired under any substance including marijuana.  This marijuana DUI bill is discrimination against medical marijuana patients.

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

http://www.npr.org/blogs/healt...

Ricky
Ricky

 I vote we close the bars and open more dispensaries!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

The drunkards on Capitol Hill have Constitutional Immunity from arrest or prosecution for DUI ... they don't give a fuck.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong take, Patient. We're going to make it an upcoming Comment of the Day. Congrats.

William Breathes
William Breathes

Thanks for the link. Hopefully my time spent last April as a human pin cushion/guinea pig is enough for this bill as well.

Denver MMJ Patient
Denver MMJ Patient

Bingo. I think you hit this nail on the head.

DUIs are still written for prescription drugs every year. Medical marijuana should be no different. If you are notably too impaired to drive, and you get into a traffic stop, you get charged, as it should be.

Medical marijuana discrimination needs to end.

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

Where is the blood test for Mr. King and the entire general assembly BEFORE they vote on this?

We all need to  know who is under the influence and of what when they vote. 

Tbias
Tbias

Great idea.  I wonder how many that will put out of work.  Idiot.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

A single patient anecdote does not a scientific study make.

Michelle LaMay
Michelle LaMay

Congress is considering offering ALL baby boomers a FREE hepititus test...it is epidemic and many do not know they have it. The costs of one law suit for a mandated test being the cause of a blood carried disease would far out weigh the costs to Coloradoans. Besides there is DUPLICATE evidence taking of some kind of roadside behavior that impairs driving, i.e. already enough laws on the books to cover punishment for impairment on ALL drugs.

Michelle LaMay, Proponent #1 303-886-7998 http://www.relief4possession.w... relief4possession@groups.facebook.com

Ricky
Ricky

Better to have drunks on the road than people unemployed?  Really?

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