Driving-while-stoned videos help fuel momentum of THC driving bill
Legislation to set THC driving standards in Colorado has failed twice before. However, a new version that also tweaks alcohol DUI rules won unanimous approval during its first House committee hearing earlier this week.
Aiding this momentum are assorted news videos that purport to show the dangers of driving while stoned; see examples below. But the clips don't address many of the objections that helped kill the previous bills.
A CBS4 report on what the station refers to as "DWS" relies to a large degree on a package assembled earlier this month by KIRO-TV in Washington, where voters have also given permission to adults 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of marijuana. Washington also has a law that sets THC intoxication limits at five nanograms per milliliter of blood -- the same levels that will be established with the passage of the Colorado bill, HB 13-1114, which is on view below.
The KIRO report shows three volunteers who smoke, then climb into vehicles and attempt to navigate a driving course -- and mostly fail badly, by either going far too slow or swerving into cones set up to simulate roadways. Here's the main piece:
Unfortunately, there are problems aplenty with this demonstration. Blood tests subsequently showed that the drivers weren't at or near the five nanogram level after smoking, but way over it -- in one case more than three times as much, in another instance seven times. As such, the report adds no useful information about whether five nanograms is actually an effective measure of intoxication -- and it doesn't address the fact that readings above that total are common in frequent users like medical marijuana patients due to the way THC lingers in the system.
To address this issue, the authors of HB 13-1114 have added a new element to the latest measure: a "permissible inference" defense, that would allow people who test at five nanograms or above to present other evidence to prove that they weren't actually impaired. But marijuana attorney Rob Corry sees this change as only a slight improvement, making the new proposal 95 percent bad as opposed to 100 percent.
Here's an example of what's wrong with the measure from his perspective, as outlined in a letter to legislators that's also shared below.
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