Marijuana: Would THC driving bill help people busted for alcohol DUIs beat the rap?

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At this writing, HB 13-1114, a bill to set THC driving-impairment standards, is being debated by the House judiciary committee -- and it differs substantially from the version that failed twice before. This time, the THC limit is part of wide-ranging legislation that makes changes in the way driving under the influence of alcohol is treated, and the language appears to offer alleged drunk drivers a new way to try to avoid punishment. Details and the bill itself below.

As we've discussed, the bill, co-sponsored by Representative Rhonda Fields (the victim of alleged threats by Franklin Sain over her gun-control advocacy), would establish a cannabis impairment level of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood.

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Rhonda Fields.
This standard has been a subject of much debate among marijuana activists, who point out that THC lingers in a user's system long after many users are sober, creating the prospect of innocent people being convicted. In a gesture toward such criticism, the new bill replaces the previous "per se" definition of the limit -- which would have established guilty under all circumstances for those who tested at five nanograms or above -- with allowances for a "permissible inference" defense. The latter allows individuals to provide evidence that they weren't actually impaired despite the test results.

Here's a key passage from the bill, which is included in its entirety at the bottom of this post:

IF AT SUCH TIME THE DRIVER'S BLOOD CONTAINED FIVE NANOGRAMS OR MORE OF DELTA 9-TETRAHYDROCANNABINOL PER MILLILITER IN WHOLE BLOOD, AS SHOWN BY ANALYSIS OF THE DEFENDANT'S BLOOD, SUCH FACT GIVES RISE TO A PERMISSIBLE INFERENCE THAT THE DEFENDANT WAS UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ONE OR MORE DRUGS.
Marijuana attorney Rob Corry believes this alteration is an improvement over provisions in the previous bills, but only by a smidgeon. In an interview with Westword, he called the current measure "95 percent bad," as opposed to the previous 100 percent. He makes similar points in a letter sent to legislators that was sent earlier today; it's on view below.

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William Breathes's blood test showed him nearly triple the proposed THC standard when sober.
Meanwhile, an aspect of the bill that's gotten little attention since William Breathes's original post on the subject, published in December, is the change it creates in alcohol DUI law. Here's how it's explained in the bill's summary:
Under current law, in any prosecution for vehicular homicide or vehicular assault, if at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, or within a reasonable time thereafter, as shown by analysis of the defendant's blood or breath, there was 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood, or if there was at such time 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath, it is presumed that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol. The bill removes this presumption and states instead that such fact gives rise to a permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol.
In other words, people busted for vehicular homicide who had a blood-alcohol content of .08 or above were presumed intoxicated under the previous legislation. But now, such individuals can argue that they weren't actually impaired despite the test, using the same permissible-inference defense inserted to placate critics of the THC standard.

How?

Continue to read more about the proposed change in the driving-under-the-influence law, including the complete bill and a letter from attorney Rob Corry.


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28 comments
mike1963
mike1963

It's all about the $$$$ plain and simple. Think about the revenue stream that is cut off now by making misdemeanor possession legal. This is one way these lazy bastards will continue to capitalize on marijuana. As for "Pretty Boy" Rob Corey anybody who takes this clown seriously, deserves what's coming to them!

Michael Barger
Michael Barger

As usual, it's bad legal speak from people (sorry to put lawyers in the same class as us humans) who are completely disconnected from reality, and who are trying to put everyone in the same bucket.

Michael Barger
Michael Barger

Possibly not Stephen. What if said person simply smelled of MJ, but had not indulged, and was pulled over. A blood/urine test would say that he was guilty if said person were an occasional user (once every 30 days) because THC doesn't remove itself from the blood/urine stream for that long. Say this person had evidence to say that they did not do anything prior to driving... This is the hardest part of the legalization aspect. MJ has different effects on different people, and it stays in the blood stream for longer, and is (at this point) near impossible to detect recent vs. usage from a day or a week ago. [Unless the person has resin on their mouth, etc.]

Mish Desmarais
Mish Desmarais

^^dashcam? Haha This is a terrible law. The limit right now is set to zero. Why change it? No per se!

Stephen At Half Aspen
Stephen At Half Aspen

"The latter allows individuals to provide evidence that they weren't actually impaired despite the test results." - What "evidence" do you think a defendant could present that would be acceptable to the court??? None, none whatsoever. This proposal is as idiotic as its sponsors.

Michael Barger
Michael Barger

Excellent point Gabe! I'm curious as to how it should be regulated. I've seen drivers that are stoned who most definitely should not be driving, and I've been in the car with those who, like you stated, drive better after having some MJ. The only logical solution I could come up with is individual testing of the affects & amounts, but we all know government doesn't work that way. Everyone gets shoved in the same bucket...

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

We're screwed...this is going to make it out of committee...and why? "Because the constitution says we have to treat marijuana like alcohol."

jhaul21
jhaul21

anyone who has researched this a little figures out that 5 nanaogram is way to low, it needs to be more like 50ng, if u wanna set it 5 than u mine as well will say u cant smoke weed and be a driver too, colorado needs to conduct its own studies on this with an actual car driving test; not simulator, and figure out what dangerous impairment is

Justin Day
Justin Day

How do alcohol laws get put into a THC bill? Weird.

Gabe Mintz
Gabe Mintz

Once an individual grows a tolerance to thc driving high ain't no thing. it's prolly safer actually because a stoned person actually would slow down at a yellow light. With that being said, it affects each person differently, so to have people debating topics in which it affects people differently, the conclusion of the bill either way is wrong

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

  *** Breaking News: Feds to respond to Recreational Pot initiatives *** 

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Eric Holder says he is in the last stages of reviewing new state laws legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Washington and Colorado.

On Tuesday, Holder told a meeting of state attorneys general he is examining policy options and international implications of the issue.

According to the U.S. attorney general, he is still in the process of reviewing the initiatives. Marijuana is illegal under federal law.

Holder's assessment could result in the federal government suing the states over the new laws.


zztop
zztop

Probably not.............

zztop
zztop

These dumb people took Robert Correy's advise.....to open these type of stores, clubs and delivery services. How dumb are you?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

 "Attorney Leonard Frieling, an expert on marijuana law"

One of the lying liars who helped promote THE LIE that A64 would eliminate "10,000+ ARRESTS for Marijuana" EVERY YEAR in Colorado.

Credibility = ZERO!


Monkey
Monkey

Rhonda Fields, master of numerical limits. She will save us all through arbitrary numbers. If you don't know how many rounds are safe for your magazine, or how many nanograms are safe to operate a motor vehicle, don't worry, Rhonda knows.

peteg1987
peteg1987

Pot was voted in 'by the people'. What 'the people' should be focused on next is 'organized crime', politicians, regulators, lawmakers, big business, that ignore 'for profit' what has been passed 'by the people'. Corruption, realistically is the greater issue. Since pot was unlawfully enacted 75 yrs. ago I look forward to those that will bring a class action suit against those of government.Wanna see the crooked side, of those in law, that festers in the state of Colo.? (Respectfully, open your eyes, for your offspring, consider what you hear and do or say something, todays technology brings that into your home.) I have a website, petition, and a U-Tube video to share entitiled "Help me buy justice." Pass it on.

lfrieling
lfrieling

@Michael Barger Colorado has converted in large part to measurement of active THC in blood.  Measuring inactive THC metabolite in urine is becoming FAR less common here.   It is not unheard of, and is still used for those on probation, for example.  THC carboxy, a  metabolite, written THC COOH,  can stay in fat cells for a long time (weeks to months perhaps) and is NOT psychoactive.  Most people are below 5 ng/ml of active THC in their whole blood within three hours.  Some, not all, are impaired in some ways at 5 ng/ml.   The psychopharmacology of THC is quite complex in some ways.  Thanks!  

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Stephen At Half Aspen This "permissible inference" should never have been allowed the first time they tried to stuff it into a law. It has two distinct problems:

  1. It flips the table and forces the victim of the legal system to prove himself innocent while otherwise presumed guilty.
  2. "You can't prove a negative." How the hell are you supposed to prove you were not impaired? If it weren't after the fact you could reasonably demonstrate not being impaired....

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Michael Barger Better yet, an objective test of impairment, no matter what substance (if any) the driver has in his system.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

 HB13-1114 passes Colorado House Judiciary Committee 11-0.

Incidentally, the authors pledged to write it into the bill to attempt to keep law officers from using evidence of being a cannabis patient as probable cause for a test. Waller basically said "we'll come up with something."

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@jhaul21 ...and test the actual impairment factors objectively, rather than chemicals. Response time, for example, is a simple test, with a simple (and cheap) device.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

“You will hear soon. We’re in the last stages of that review and we’re trying to make a determination as to what the policy ramifications are going to be, what our international obligations are — there are a whole variety of things that go into this determination — but the people of [Colorado] and Washington deserve an answer and you will have one soon.”

Holder was responding to Colorado state attorney general John Suthers, who asked the nation’s top law enforcement official when the DOJ would be weighing in on the state laws that have been in effect for nearly two months.

...

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

works on safari also,

for the main site with live chat, you too Donkey, go to:

http://inhale.tv 

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@caregiversforlife ... dumb enough to believe a CONVICTED CRIMINAL who has an extensive criminal history including offenses for Weapons and Sex offenses.

Then again, the way Westword helps keep readers blind to his criminal history it wouldn't be surprising if many clients and acolytes of Corry were simply unaware.

Imagine the HEADLINES and continuous coverage if Tom Martino had the criminal history that Rob Corry has ...


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey ... the Stupid Stoners who promoted and voted for A64 know that Marijuana is far too Harmful and Dangerous for ANYONE under < arbitrary number 21 > years old to be allowed to possess or use any amount whatsoever -- under CRIMINAL penalty of Law!

And the Stupid Stoners who promoted and voted for A64 know that the rest of the citizens cannot be trusted with more than < arbitrary number 1 > ounce of it, being it is so harmful and dangerous ... nor shall they be allowed to grow more than < arbitrary number 3 > flowering plants ... nor shall they be allowed to privately sell < arbitrary number 0 > grams of it under penalty of FELONY law.

Don't worry, stoners know best.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@peteg1987 "Pot was voted in 'by the people'."

WRONG!! ... The People voted for REGULATION! ... massive Government REGULATION of ALL ASPECTS of marijuana ... to be treated like DEADLY Alcohol that harms, maims and kills 10s of THOUSANDS of people every year!

*** Regulation Works! ***

Get REGULATED, suckers!



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