THC-limit bill could ban many seniors and veterans from driving, activist says

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On Monday, a Senate committee passed a THC-driving limits bill that's broader than one that fell short last year. As Senator Morgan Carroll noted here yesterday, the proposal establishes zero tolerance for any Schedule I or Schedule II drugs, including many prescription medications. Cannabis activist Rico Colibri thinks the result could ban many seniors and veterans from driving.

Colibri co-founded the Association of Cannabis Trades, an organization that had significant input on HB-1284, the measure regulating medical marijuana retail operations in Colorado, and currently runs a nonprofit dubbed the Cannabis Alliance for Regulation and Education (CARE). He attended Monday's marathon hearing and was the last to testify, telling committee members that "the zero tolerance policy for Schedule II medicines will negatively effect anyone who takes them for pain management, including senior citizens and military veterans."

rico colibri.jpg
Rico Colibri.
The proposal, sponsored by Senator Steve King, would set an impairment limit of five nanograms per milliliter of blood for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. However, there are no figures associated with Schedule I or Schedule II drugs. The reason, speculates Carroll, who opposes the measure, is that there's no reliable scientific information about safe driving levels for these other meds, so the bill's authors simply established that any trace of such substances would establish impairment. That's a highly dubious assumption in Colibri's view, and one that could have enormous repercussions for far more than medical marijuana patients.

"Senator King only talked about medical marijuana patients," Colibri says. "He's trying to cloak it with this other stuff. But something like 60 percent of the population in Colorado takes prescription-based medication, and many of them take Schedule II drugs. I have senior citizens in my family who have to take Oxycontin daily to get through their lives, and there are many, many veterans who have to do so because of injuries they sustained while keeping our country safe. And most people aren't aware that Senator King is trying to criminalize these veterans and other people with pain-management issues."

Page down to continue reading our interview with Rico Colibri about the THC driving bill.



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39 comments
Light Rail Tattler
Light Rail Tattler

At 1827 Gaylord there is a Methadone clinic.Cars drive in and out of there all day long.Many patients have to consume the Methadone before leaving the clinic.The clinic makes sure you really need the Methadone becase it is worth money on the street.The clinic also knows patients drive home after taking the meds.The Methadone patient's body adjusts to the drug over time.The Methadone stabilizes the heroin addict so they can live a normal life.They hold jobs and drive cars.The cops don't wait outside the clinic and do sobriety tests.They don't have accidents.Every medical condidtion is different.Long term pain meds the body adjusts too and the prescription warning is Use Care When Driving or Operating Machinery.

Thedawg
Thedawg

This is a really smart argument that Rico is presenting, smart enough to kill this stupid bill!!!...

Mike DeVault
Mike DeVault

I understand about how many drinks of alcohol I can have over a period of time before I’m considered impaired, I can even buy a little BAC tester at Walgreens; Sooooo how do I know what my THC intake limits are and how do I check them myself before I drive? The drug tests available that I have seen are either pass or fail.

West Texas
West Texas

Your state has truly gone to pot.  We were going to move to Colorado and teach after college and now I am so glad we didn't.   I cannot imagine having to explain all of the herb shops to my 9 year old.  Glad we ended up in west Texas where kids say yes sir and no sir and the people who smoke pot don't drive our kids to school "legally" and are fired when they do.  I had a student teacher a couple of years ago who was convicted of sending pot in the mail.  He got 10 years for 2 grow houses and he must have been high because showed up when called at the post office for a  lack of postage that helped convict him.  In Colorado he would be a entrepreneur and a man of some standing in the business community, perhaps make him a city councilman.   When I was a juvenile officer in another state before we took a pass on Colorado my students could not believe I never did drugs.  How sad.  I saw how much pot and other drugs took a mental and physical toll on their lives.  Wish those who advocate it would spend some time with those kids and see how drugs tore their lives apart.  I told them everytime that when DARE officers talked at my school when I was a kid  I listened that is why I was never locked up for that charge.  Glad we made it to conservative west Texas and avoided your states social problems.  American Weed on National Geographic was in Ft. Collins and I saw how people were growing it beside their homes outside in residential areas so that  children could pull it and take it to school.  Your states head is in a pot cloud.  Wake up !   Lots of real medications that are FDA approved would be the correct choice.  Fake pharmacies and doctors that prescribe to help the chronic pain all of the 20 somethings with sore wrists have taken Colorado down a road that has already gone to pot!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Here's the 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.

Colorado Mmj Patient
Colorado Mmj Patient

My money is on them stripping the non mmj parts and ramming the MMJ only part through. KEEP CONTACTING YOUR REPS! 

Anonymous Lady
Anonymous Lady

I think this is a little extreme. If you smoked a week ago, chances are that if you were a heavy smoker, it is still in your system. So, you would not be high, you would be driving your car sober and still be punished!?! This is not realistic at all. They just want to start up more bs for the drug war. Money money money. Not to mention the recent studies actually showed medical marijuana REDUCES traffic related deaths.

Monkey
Monkey

There is no limit on pharmaceuticals because there is no scientific proof a general limit would prove impairment for everyone using any drug. The same is true with cannabis but It will be interesting to see how they try to distinguish a difference. I think they will claim a "compromise" and remove schedule II and keep schedule I including weed. If they do, we will all know the schedule II thing was just an offering built into this silly bill to convince us the legislators are being fair and willing to compromise. I should open a scooter shop, anything 50cc and below are not considered motor vehicles and they can't take your drivers license away for refusing a drug or alcohol test. A summer of weed smoking, pill popping seniors  roaming the streets on scooters titled  "is this what you want" would be a funny poster to compose and show are legislators.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Senator King is an imbecile to have sponsored this bill, and Senators Heath, Boyd, Bacon, and Grantham are imbeciles to have voted for it!  Not one of the idiots even floated an amendment to remove Schedule II drugs from SB12-117.

Lawrence Herbert
Lawrence Herbert

Steve King is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, relying on bigotry and ignorance rather than reason and compassion. Shame on Steve King and all his drunken colleagues.

Matthew
Matthew

Don't forget that Ritalin and Adderall are both schedule II drugs.  If you have ADD or ADHD... you can't take the meds that help you focus if you want to drive.  Xanax, Valium and Ativan are not schedule I or II drugs.  So load up on Xanax and go for a nice long drive!!!!!!!!

guest
guest

I'm disabled and use drugs to walk and drive among many other things and this bill makes it illegal for me to drive since every drug i use is on the list. This is going to be very bad for disabled people that get around on their own like me. I live in the mountains and dont have the luxury of a bus stop in front of my house so how will i get myself to the doctor and go shopping if this thing pass's? I have been driving just fine for years on many drugs on that list its why i take them. My family wont ride with me driving unless i have taken my med's and they are all on that list.How come nicotine isn't on that list? 

Patient
Patient

This bill is cruel and inhumane. Many responsible citizens will be put in a difficult legal situation if this passes. This bill shows ignorance by the authors and supports. Just because a drug is listed as a schedule 1 or 2 controlled sunstance doesn't mean it impairs the ability to drive. Besides, drugs like sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, and herbal medicines like kava that are not controlled substances can cause significant impairment as well. We all know king is really after marijuana users. Marijuana used medicinally impairs about as much as an antidepressant. Use the existing laws to prosecute impaired drivers driving under any substance and vote this crap down...unless the state wants to provide public transportation for the hundreds of thousands of sick patients that will be unable to drive.

Bilbo
Bilbo

Its all about revenue generation thru fines and filling the private prison system.  Just when you think youve been sucked dry, the state parasites find more blood.  This state is a disaster for its citizens, a minefield filled with overzelous laws.  The lobbyists win again........

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Rico is right that the absolute ban on many prescribed medications could be used against groups likely to be so medicated, seniors and veterans prominent among them, but we all know who the main targets of SB12-117 are -- us!

customex
customex

It's interesting how becoming elected as a legislator triggers someone to become so much smarter than everyone they represent and to self righteously assume that there will be no negative unintended consequences that will ripple beyond and affect many more than the individuals the legislator declares or implies were the target. It's hard to accept that either the right or the left are truly doing the peoples business instead of following their own myopic agendas.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Note: Methadone is a Schedule 2 controlled substance

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

It's IMPOSSIBLE for anyone to know their THC level.  Every strain/harvest is different and every persons body responds differently.  There would be no 'general' guidelines you could give anyone. 

I understand it changes dependent on what you do.  The more physically active you are the more THC is released from your body fat so levels can increase when exercising without smoking. 

Saying to wait 4 hours is pointless for some and will work for some.  Saying to wait until you feel safe to drive for some means you can feel safe immediatly or you can now drive BECAUSE your back pain is diminished. 

There is no universal number to define or prove impairment.  That is the problem with trying to pass any universal THC driving limit. 

Stan
Stan

West Texas - Where people are raging alcoholics because there's nothing else to do, where people lie about being able to hack it in Colorado, and where conservative Christians have more skeletons in their closets than the Adams Family.  I seriously doubt that you're qualified to teach anything beyond Shoe Tying 101, considering your disjointed thought process and sub-part English skills.  The children here in Colorado are actually smarter for having not come into contact with your dumb ass.  

valstar
valstar

"Fake pharmacies and doctors that prescribe to help the chronic pain all of the 20 somethings with sore wrists have taken Colorado down a road that has already gone to pot!"

I hate to burst your bubble hating on 20 years olds with medical marijuana cards but the average age of people on the registry is 41 years old. You are about 20 years off with your out right lie. This is a huge talking point for people like you trying to portray all of us as 20 year old stoners with made up wrist problems.

Does medical marijuana have its problems. Yes it does. Just like alcohol does with teens drinking it every day. This stuff happens with every controlled substance. People want their precious alcohol prescription pills and will over look any thing to protect it.

I could almost say with 100% certainty that there is more pot (swag) coming  into and trough texas than there is in Colorado. So by all means please stay right where you are.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Ignorant, fascist nitwit!

Donkey_Hotay, please note:  if cannabis can be proven to fend off People from Texas, we should be able to carry full legalization!!!

pheelgreen
pheelgreen

 

Its people like you that has put are educational systemin the toilet. Why can’t you explain to your children that the people in thegreat state of COLORADO has educated them self’s on the benefits of Cannabisand refuses to be cows lead to the slaughter  house of pharmaceuticals . Cannabis help’s thehuman body & mind. Tell your children that.   Teach themthe history of Hemp & how it was used in the Military to help defeat the ignorantminds of WWII. “Hemp for Victory”

I hope you don’t teach them English.

“He got 10 years for 2 grow houses and he must have beenhigh because showed up when called at the post office for a  lack ofpostage that helped convict him”

Monkey
Monkey

Thank you for not moving to Colorado, our children deserve good teachers.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Another Asshole from El Paso.

The only things in Texas are steers and queers ... and you don't look much like a steer, boy.

ps: How's that drug war violence from Juarez treating you ?

Here I sit,my buns a flexin'Giving birthto another Texan.

-- graffiti on public toilet

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Well then, if marijuana "reduces traffic deaths" as you claim, then smoking pot should be mandatory for all drivers, nationwide.

Reality Check
Reality Check

The  limit is based on active delta 9 thc as opposed to metabolites such as THCOOH. That said there is still an issue with chronic use and latent delta 9 THC levels.

Reality Check
Reality Check

We don't want the Schedule 2 removed we want the Bill killed and calling the representatives we need to vote in our favor imbeciles doesn't help those we are trying to advocate for.

Michael Roberts
Michael Roberts

Strong post, Guest -- one we're going to make an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

And the stoners continue to beg the government for REGULATIONS and TAXATION of their precious pot.

Go figure.

Safely Stoned
Safely Stoned

But he is wrong to advocate an 8 ng limit, it totally undercuts his argument and exposes him as an amateur.  I know he's driven with more than 8 ng in his blood!

Donkey Hotay
Donkey Hotay

Déjà vu -- the teabaggin racists and bigots who voted and passed Denver's ordinance that mandated vehicle seizure, towing and $1000 fees for anyone who did not have a Driver License IN THEIR POSSESSION -- regardless of whether or not the police computer check showed a valid license existed for said person -- hoped that their fascist law would only be applied to those "eee-lee-gull Mex-ee-cans".

They found out the hard way that most of the victims of the State sanctioned vehicle extortion were middle and upper class white people -- themselves !!

Karma baby! ... she's a bitch!

Guest
Guest

Call it the "Senden em back ta texas" program!

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Duh (it's all about us -- right), and you must really be in tenuous contact with reality if you suppose that we are going to now persuade any of the people I described to vote against the bill they just passed out of committee.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

I'm glad you posted this -- for one thing, I do not know that he and ACT4CO still advocate such a limit, and I disagree on historical grounds.

I think that Rico's mistake, if you want to call it that, was in asking Dr. Grotenherman what he thought a reasonable limit for THC in blood would be -- Grotenherman opined that 8 ng/ml would be more reasonable than 5.  The difference between a direct research finding in a peer-reviewed journal and the opinion of the eminent researcher who made the finding is like the difference between night and day.

but wait ...

1)  Scientifically illiterate legislators (essentially all of them) cannot discern the chasm in import between those two categories of information.

2) The professionalism of Rico's white paper and presentation impressed the House Judiciary Committee and at least to some extent, they credited that there was a contrary scientific opinion to the basis for HB11-1261.

3) Rep. Claire Levy was already daunted by the ferocity of opposition to the bill (or something) -- Rico's credible assertion that the limit was too low gave her the out she needed.  She amended her bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee to make it a study instead of the imposition of a 5ng/ml limit, and so amended, it failed to pass Second Reading in the Senate.

Rico and the position he took were instrumental in killing the bill.

He should be commended for having advocated an 8ng/ml standard!

Kathleen Chippi
Kathleen Chippi

What I witnessed was Sen Carrol emailing Laura Kriho from the floor (at the vote) that the DUI bill would pass and that there was nothing left that she could do to stop it.  The Republicans were sitting in their chairs when the email was sent. 

Then I witnessed Sen King go off his pre written statement and start rambling off the top of his head about how if they passed the language it would be the highest THC limit in the country......so the na-sayers shouldn't complain, cause they were being so lenient. 

Immediately the Republicans stood up found each other and started talking amongst themselves in little groups.  They didn't want to pass the most lenient THC nanogram limit in the country.  God forbid they do that.

I believe that is what killed the bill at the last minute while the vote was on the floor. Listen to the hearing and decide for yourself-knowing that Sen Carrol thought it would pass up until moments before it was killed.

Sen. King was shocked and Se. Carrol was shocked.  Sadly,  I do not believe it was killed based on science or lack there of.  I think Republicans didn't want to be on record voting for the most lenient THC limits in the country.  

But I do believe that everyone's emails, phone calls,comments, especially things like Rico's white paper, are a mandatory minimum of what is required of all of us who believe in science and freedom.  We should all be thanking Rico for his work in the white paper.  We must continue to educate the electorate based on science and real data.  Where was a white paper from MMIG or Sensible?  Oh...I forgot they were supporting it.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Re-read what you just wrote -- are you trying to imply that Sen. Carroll persuaded Levy to amend her bill into a study?  Of course Sen. Carroll was also instrumental in killing the bill, but Rico proposed an 8ng/ml standard and for some reason, Rep. Levy then amended her own bill so that it became unpalatable.  He certainly deserves some of the credit for defeating HB11-1261!

Patient Caregiver
Patient Caregiver

 The 8ng limit had nothing to do with killing the bill. Sen. Morgan Carroll did that single-handedly. In the end, it was the Republicans who voted it down, because it had been amended to a study in the end, and the Republicans didn't want a study.

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