Marijuana: THC driving bill fails for third year -- but will it rise from the dead again?

smoking driving 205x205.jpg
Earlier this month, the latest version of a THC driving bill that had failed the past two years seemed to be on a steady march to passage despite e-mail protests and petitions.

But no: Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-1 to squash the measure again.

Why? One advocate believes the legislation was doomed by the killer combo of persistent critics and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling of a few days ago.

As we've reported, driving while stoned is currently illegal under Colorado law. But unlike in the case of alcohol, there's no number at which a marijuana-using driver is considered to be officially impaired -- and cannabis activists see that as a good thing, since the science on the subject is infinitely less certain than it is in the case of booze. Nonetheless, the medical marijuana industry boom caused assorted legislators to believe one was needed anyhow.

Legislation from 2011 and 2012 would have established THC intoxication at five nanograms per milliliter of blood and made this standard per se -- meaning that a test registering five nanograms or more would be seen as irrefutable proof of intoxication. In response, critics argued that because THC tends to linger in users for longer periods of time, it's next to impossible to determine actual impairment via a blood test, at least under presently available technology.

rhonda fields 205x205.jpg
Rhonda Fields.
This year, the five nanogram limit was still part of the legislation, known as HB 1114, but the per se language vanished from the measure, sponsored by Representative Rhonda Fields. Instead, the text referred to "permissible inference," which would allow people who register at five nanograms or above to present other evidence in court to prove that they weren't actually impaired, rather than being considered guilty as a result of the test reading.

Marijuana attorney Rob Corry saw this change as only a slight improvement over the previous legislation, making the new proposal 95 percent bad as opposed to 100 percent.

Fields, however, considered the standard to be necessary given what's thought to be increased marijuana use in the area due to previously existing medical marijuana laws and the signing of Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over to use and possess small amounts of cannabis recreationally in Colorado. Moreover, in an interview earlier this month, she expressed confidence that innocent people wouldn't be convicted as a result of the limit.

"The bill looks for active THC in the system, not inactive THC," she told us. "If someone is a chronic user, like medical marijuana patients who use it as part of their treatment, we won't be looking at something that's residue. We'll only be looking at the active THC level."

steve king at hearing.jpg
Steve King.
These arguments helped the bill win approval in the House, and since a number of major marijuana industry groups had lifted their objections to the bill after the permissible inference addition, most observers expected the legislation to also get over the hump in the Senate, where it had stumbled the past two years. Instead, Senator Steve King, a co-sponsor of the measure, was the only member of the five-person Senate Judiciary Committee to vote in its favor -- a far easier win for opponents than in the previous two victories.

The size of the defeat resulted from "a combination of things," says attorney and marijuana-reform advocate Warren Edson. "I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish, but there were a dedicated bunch of activists who were pretty persistent even when it looked so certain that the bill was going to get through. They kept plugging away and organizing and having people write their legislators."

The other key, in his view, was "a Supreme Court case that talked about requiring a court order for a blood test."

Continue for more about the THC driving bill's defeat, including the complete U.S. Supreme Court ruling.



Advertisement

My Voice Nation Help
49 comments
BuddJones
BuddJones

Driving past the Homeless on Speer Blvd.

What do you do when the economy sucks, vacant buildings litter the city from one end to another, homeless people sleep outside billion dollar sports centers while 22 millionaires play a game that was designed for children. Denver's homeless population continues to grow and the city administration drives past its cardboard condos every morning and never blinks an eye. Yet there is a need to spend another million dollars trying to determine the most effective way to tell if someone is high off THC ..the lingering bitterness of post election blues.

Mayor Hancock won the election riding his own humble chariot claiming to have risen from nowhere to become the destined leader of the Mile High City. Yet the homeless still crowd on the island at the Intersection of Broadway and Park Ave. , in sight of all who never look because they have dinner reservations at The Chop House with John Elway & Peyton Manning.

Denver can do better.

As for you Ms. Fields...I applaud your activism however your minimum experience in politics does not make you a quick study expert in any "field". Especially MMJ...need I not remind you of  your failure to speak up at one of Denver's historic turning points...the days of change at George Washington High School. You were there...but you quietly walked away while others fought that war. There are times when any politician can benefit from listening more than speaking....this may be yours.

2013 will be a year of reckoning, humbleness. Marijuana is here to stay and there are other issues pending of greater urgency.

neder
neder

Thanks warren edson.  Nice job!

cono
cono

Leonard Frieling with the Colorado NORML nailed the approach in defeating this bill.  NORML should fire Allen St. Pierre and replace him with Frieling.

BillyBYoung
BillyBYoung

Mota and donkey, the hip tips aren't hip or a tip anymore. find a hobby, other than this maybe?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

From Amendment 64 -- (III) DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL;

What stoner idiots would vote for and send that MANDATE to the very same Law Enforcement Goons and Prohibitionist Politicians that have been running the drug war against them for the past 40+ years?

Thanks Lyin' Brian Vicente and Mendacious Mason Tvert!


Monkey
Monkey

Give it up you vampire, blood sucking legislators and police. We're tired of you wasting time year after year on this crap. 

WhirledPeasPlease
WhirledPeasPlease

Does driving stoned actually impair the driver's ability?
Driving around Civic Center park on 4/20, what I noticed were slow drivers stopping 6 feet before a traffic light or stop sign. Seems to me, marijuana makes people drive slower & more cautiously.

LeAnne Carroll
LeAnne Carroll

Someone could have smoked the night before & still test at the 5 nanograms level. They just need to find a definitive test that will indicate the difference between prior & immediate recent use.

Ed Haas
Ed Haas

If they can find a way to prove without a doubt that a smoker just got stoned, hit a bong etc, and got behind the wheel? Then I might be able to see where they're coming from at least. But if they continue to stab in the dark at this issue with some of these outrageous proposals? Forget about it.

ccapra
ccapra

To me this was key "@APkristenwyatt: Do we have numbers on traffic fatals in which THC was the sole intoxicant? asks @jessie4CO. King: Not on me. But I'll get it to you. #coleg". If this is your third time trying to pass this bill shouldn't you damn well know the answer to this by heart? This is why you fail Senator King. Thank you Kristen Wyatt for your excellent reporting and to the rest of those committee members who use their common sense.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@cono  ... Lyin' Lenny is one of the Marijuana McLawyers who make the absurdly FALSE claim the A64 would prevent 10,000+ ARRESTS for Marijuana every year.

He should be disbarred for that blatant LIE.


stuka1
stuka1


@DonkeyHotay <== pathetic strawmanning moron. Nothing in that language calls for adding or changing anything. There is no "MANDATE" there at all. hth you pathetic lying legal imbecile.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey ... then why did the Lying Liars who wrote and promoted A64 include a provision that enshrines into the Colorado Constitution that

 "Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Shall Remain ILLEGAL" ?

Fucking Retards GUARANTEED that the Prohibitionist Law Enforcement Legislature will make good on that declaration ... for THEIR OWN benefit.


BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@WhirledPeasPlease Except for when the music is blasting, the joint is burning, and someone is texting on their smartphone while the vehicle is in motion.  I saw lots of that after the event was over.  Not very safe.  

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@LeAnne Carroll Test for immediate recent use: Blast some Steve Miller and offer a can of Sour Cream & Onion Pringles.  The reaction will tell you all you need to know about impairment.

stuka1
stuka1

@LeAnne Carroll  

And one that is non-invasive. This bill would have allowed any cop to force a blood draw (under threat of license suspension AND court assumption of guilt) on ANYONE on his/her arbitrary "judgment" of impairment. HipTip: Cops DO LIE.

cannawes
cannawes

@ccapra In 2011, 587 Colorado drivers were involved in fatal accidents, 158 tested positive for drugs or alcohol, 19 tested positive solely for active THC or inactive THC metabolites. From the NHTSA FARS database.

cannawes
cannawes

@ccapra In 2011, 587 drivers were involved in fatal accidents, 158 tested positive for drugs or alcohol, 19 tested positive for active THC or inactive metabolites. From the NHTSA FARS database.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@ccapra ... don't need FATALITIES to know the REALITY of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana IMPAIRS the ability of the Driver.

You = FAIL AGAIN!

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay <=== pathetic asswipe forever relying on distortions, misinformation, DISinformation, and outright lies to push its prohibitionist agenda.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1  ... what part of DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL don't you comprehend?

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay @Monkey "Under the influence" =/= having residual cannabinoids in ones system. hth moron.

stuka1
stuka1

@BackOffImStarving ...because no one would be blasting music, smoking anything (including cigarettes), or texting if they weren't stoned.

Oh, wait...

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 "HipTip: Cops DO LIE."

Which explains why the idiots, fools and tools who wrote, promoted and voted for A64 SURRENDERED TOTAL CONTROL of Marijuana over to the Prohibitionist Politicians and anti-marijuana Law Enforcement Goons who've been running the Drug War against them for the past 40+ years!

Self-defeating Stoners are as Self-defeating Stoners do !!



eusto
eusto

@cannawes @ccapra 

So 3.2 percent of drivers involved in fatal accidents had thc in their system.  Hardly significant when roughly half of coloradans have thc in their system at any given moment.  How many of these drivers were under the influence of prescription psychoactives like lexapro?  I guarantee it's more than 3.2 percent.

stuka1
stuka1


@DonkeyHotay <== prohibitionist SHILL, babbles out of both sides of its snout 

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay <=== constant source of misinformation, disinformation, distortions, and outright LIES as it cries and whines over Prohibition's HUGE LOSS with A64

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 ... what part of DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL don't you comprehend?

@stuka1 = the legal imbecile who made the ABSURDLY LAUGHABLY claim that all marijuana violations are now civil offenses" under A64.


stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay @stuka1 

that means No change, and certainly no MANDATE as you have been hysterically bleating -- and LYING

hth moron

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1

Fact = "DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL"

hth, punk.

stuka1
stuka1

@Jackass <=== has no interest whatsoever in facts  

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@jetdoc1 ... too bad the McLawyers who wrote A64 didn't have the brains to INCLUDE any definitions when they wrote "DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL" into the amendment, which is NOW enshrined into the Colorado Constitution, eh?

Those same Marijuana McLawyers stand to reap MILLIONS of $$ from their Omission and Error ... from every fool and tool who gets busted for a non-defined DUI-marijuana.

jetdoc1
jetdoc1

@DonkeyHotay @stuka1 I think the part YOU aren't understanding is the fact that "Active Metabolites" and "INactive Metabolites" are two totally different issues.  Active components are the ONLY way you can test for "Driiving Under the Influence".  Inactive metabolites don't tell you shit... All they tell you is if I've ingested cannabis within the past 30 days, not that I'm impaired at that moment by ANY stretch of the imagination.  Inactive metabolites have NOTHING to do with determining impairment and that's the connection you're attempting to make.  

Hypothetically I could have 75ng of Inactive Metabolites (WILD arbitrary #'s) in my body, but only have 2ng of Active metabolites in my system when you take my blood.  There is NO science available today, NONE... to accurately determine the level of a drivers impairment or his level of "Under the INFLUENCE" of cannabis at all.  

Not that I'm endorsing ANY level of driving under the influence of ANYTHING, I think the point YOU are missing is the fact that you seemed to underline and point out "DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE of MARIJUANA".  with 75ng of INactive metabolites in my system, it just tells you that I smoked A LOT of pot in the past 30 days. 

That's where you're making the mistake....  IN MY SYSTEM and UNDER THE INFLUENCE are 2 TOTALLY different issues that you're trying to make a connection between and you CAN'T!  I'm really sorry that there isn't, but there's NO test that can determine impairment levels in Opioids either and they're a MUCH bigger problem than "Cannabis Influenced" drivers are.

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay  <==== There is no objective standard yet, you fucking moron. Too bad for YOU that shit FACT causes you such distress.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 = clueless legal imbecile

"DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF MARIJUANA SHALL REMAIN ILLEGAL"

What -- exactly -- is the standard of "under the influence", eh numbnuts?


stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay 

At this point there is no blood level  standard, idiot Didn't you know?

hth moron

Monkey
Monkey

@DonkeyHotay I think it's called a Field Sobriety Test, approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. We have used it for a long time, and get over a 90% conviction rate for suspects charged with driving under the influence of marijuana.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 = legal imbecile and general idiot

So tell us numbnuts, what -- exactly -- is the legal standard for "under the influence" re: marijuana and driving?

LegalTip: dictionaries don't count.


stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay  <=== pathetic loser, can't argue without resorting to distortions, misrepresentations, disinformation, and outright pathological lies (inane nonsense).

 BTW your constant use of your sock puppet El Derpo to "like" your posts simply illustrates just how pathetic you are.

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay @stuka1 

Oh, look, the pathetic angry prohibitionist troll is back, spouting the same inane nonsense it has been for the last year. 


Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...