Marijuana: THC driving bill continues steady march to passage

Categories: Marijuana

driving while stoned 205x205.jpg
As we've reported, 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 in late February.

Momentum for the bill has not flagged in the month-plus since then. Today, it was favorably reported out of the appropriations committee. It'll next head to the House floor, where it faces little organized opposition. Why the change?

We put that question to Representative Rhonda Fields, a co-sponsor of the latest measure, HB 13-1114; read it below in its entirety. In her view, "the reason this bill is different is because it has a permissible inference in it. The previous bill had a per se limit."

To explain: The 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. But 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 currently available technology.

Rhonda Fields.
This year, the five nanogram limit is still in place, but the per se language is gone, replaced by "permissible inference," which would allow people who register at five nanograms or above to present other evidence to prove that they weren't actually impaired, rather than being considered guilty as a result of the test reading.

Marijuana attorney Rob Corry sees this change as only a slight improvement over the previous legislation, making the new proposal 95 percent bad as opposed to 100 percent. But Fields disagrees -- and she cites the support of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) as another key factor in the gathering support.

Granted, there are plenty of people who continue to believe a five nanogram limit doesn't measure intoxication in a consistent, predictable way. They argue that medical marijuana patients, who use cannabis regularly, can register at well over this limit even when they're not intoxicated -- something demonstrated by Westword MMJ critic William Breathes. During a 2011 test, he scored nearly three times beyond five nanograms when sober.

Fields, though, doesn't see the conviction of innocent people as a likely outcome of the measure. "The bill looks for active THC in the system, not inactive THC," she stresses. "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."

Moreover, patients or others who believe they weren't intoxicated despite a five-nanogram-plus reading will be able to make an argument in court, as opposed to simply having to accept their fate.

The bill had to pass the appropriations committee because of what Fields calls "some funding aspects." However, the committee has now moved it along in the process. Fields expects that it will soon be scheduled for action on the House floor.

Look below to see the bill, followed by the CCJJ recommendation -- which, interestingly enough, features negative discussion points that are longer than the positive ones.

House Bill 13-1114: Marijuana Driving Standards

THC Driving Bill Recommendation

More from our Marijuana archive: "Driving-while-stoned videos help fuel momentum of THC driving bill."

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106 comments
Zack Judish
Zack Judish

they never said whether or not she drove the course while sober wither... maybe shes just a terrible driver. I would have to say that she seemed like she was not taking the test seriously. this is no way to tell whether or not marijuana impares driving to a degree...but I will say that if I smoke a gram by myself I will not be driving.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

I'd suggest pointing out to any house member voting on this that the "recommendation for" actually provides an excellent reason not to vote for it. That reason is that it is not an accurate measurement of impairment. Add this to the implied requirement that the target of this legislation is now forced to somehow prove that he's not impaired (proving a negative) and the law makes no sense at all.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

"Moreover, patients or others who believe they weren't intoxicated despite a five-nanogram-plus reading will be able to make an argument in court, as opposed to simply having to accept their fate."

That's the difference, right there...the need to go go court. If the state paid for the attorney of my choice, this might fly. Why should I have to go broke and suffer other trauma to protect myself from an invalid assumption?

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

"the reason this bill is different is because it has a permissible inference in it. The previous bill had a per se limit."

"Permissible inference" permits the court to find you guilty because of an unscientific assertion that a certain amount of chemical in your blood has a direct correlation with being intoxicated. It essentially switches the burden of evidence from the prosecution to the accused. This should be unconstitutional (though there's precedent, and I don't know at what level.) In any case, it's clearly immoral. It's the difference between having to go to trial to defend yourself ($$$$) and not.

markhopkins435
markhopkins435

"which would allow people who register at five nanograms or above to present other evidence to prove that they weren't actually impaired, rather than being considered guilty as a result of the test reading"

The burdon of proving guilt is not defendants....prove that we were impaired.

markhopkins435
markhopkins435

which would allow people who register at five nanograms or above to present other evidence to prove that they weren't actually impaired, rather than being considered guilty as a result of the test reading

ok....the burdon of proving guilt lays with the DA

Derek Dwreck Wynn
Derek Dwreck Wynn

This will leave the decision of actual impairment at the time up to the Police officer. I could have smoked 4 days prior and still not pass a 5 nanogram test, Denver Police has a pretty crappy record for Public Beatings and Brutality(judgement calls), I can see this clogging the courts with anyone that "smells" or possesses a small amount of Marijuana in a vehicle.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

That's funny becaue most of her voters are probably above the limit most of the time. But then again most of her voters can't afford a car.

krymsun
krymsun

Why does most everyone automatically jump to the automatic, knee-jerk, and FALSE assumption that cannabis impairs drivers much the same as does alcohol? Why let uninformed opinions be the basis of new laws? It took me very little time to do a search, and find actual scientific studies which indicate just how incorrect such an assumption is.
See: http://norml.org/library/item/marijuana-and-driving-a-review-of-the-scientific-evidence

Per Se Drugged Driving Laws and Traffic Fatalities concluded that, as currently implemented, making it illegal to operate a motor vehicle with drugs (or drug metabolites) in the system, has no discernible impact on traffic fatalities.
See: http://ftp.iza.org/dp7048.pdf

Driving High on Marijuana Is Safer Than Driving Drunk [ or driving sober ]
See: http://blogs.lawyers.com/2012/04/cruising-the-high-way-safer-than-drunk-driving/

FOR some Top Ten Reasons Marijuana Users Are Safe Drivers
See: http://www.theweeklyconstitutional.com/news/headlines/1035-why-you-should-always-spark-up-before-hitting-the-road

Tim Tindle
Tim Tindle

Terrible waste of money! On one side we are in a depression and there is no money for schools and infrastructure, on the other they want to spend millions on arbitrary shit.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident ... too bad the CLUELESS bong-suckers Stoners were TOO STUPID to comprehend this before they:

1) declared that DUI-marijuana shall REMAIN ILLEGAL and put that into the CONSTITUTION via A64, and

2) failed to set ANY reasonable, objective limits to that, and

3) surrendered TOTAL CONTROL of the above over to the same Big Government Bureaucrats, anti-pot Politician and Law Enforcement Goons who've been running the drug war against them for the past 40+ years.

Stupid Stoners ARE as Stupid Stoners DO! -- Get REGULATED, suckers!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident ""Permissible inference" permits the court to find you guilty"

Yep.

But bong-sucking retards like Matt Leising lack the reading comprehension skills of a 5th grader, and declare this bill is "GREAT NEWS!" 

EVERYONE who supported A64 DESERVES THIS REGULATION rammed ALL THE WAY up their ignorant asses !!


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Peace Will Win ... get REGULATED!

                        REGULATION WORKS !!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@krymsun "Why does most everyone automatically jump to the automatic, knee-jerk, and FALSE assumption that cannabis impairs drivers much the same as does alcohol?"

Because the Stupid Stoners and Lying Liars who wrote, promoted and voted for A64 explicitly declared that DUI-marijuana shall REMAIN ILLEGAL, and put that declaration in the Colorado CONSTITUTION !! ... then failed to set or establish any objective scientifically derived impairment standard for it, leaving that determination up to the same big-government bureaucrats and anti-marijuana law enforcement goons who've been running the drug war for the past 40+ years.

Brilliant, eh?

Remember -- REGULATION WORKS!! ... prepare to get REGULATED! ... you fools VOTED FOR IT!

Obey the Will of the VOTERS !!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Faycless ... too bad the Lying Liars who wrote A64 and the stupid stoners who supported it were too fucking clueless to set or establish any reasonable objective standard in the amendment, eh?

You brain-dead bong-sucking imbeciles who supported that festering turd A64 DESERVE this REGULATION rammed up your collective colons.



genrebender23
genrebender23

@DonkeyHotayas with many things, there are incremental steps to work out - no major shift like this happens in a single fell swoop. Even if they started pulling people over for weed DUIs, it's a damn sight better than being jailed for mere possession of it. This bullshit measure, however, will be challenged in court because of its total lack of scientific validity. You're too obviously wrapped up in the illusion to see that, though, so I don't expect you to understand these things. Talk to us again when there's a rash of actual convicted stoners who weren't impaired at the time, and we can revisit your big gubmint paranoid fantasies. Until that point though we are happy to see the move substantive progress on cannabis reform in 40 or more years. Kthxbai.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

So it is true.Oh no I am being called a racist by another loser liberal, I'd better just start looking at people through liberal rose colored glasses and ignore the reality of the world.

Mark
Mark

@DonkeyHotay This has nothing to do with A64, it was brought up twice before and will be again until those fuck nuts pass it.  If anything is has to do with your precious a20 yet I don't see you whining about that.

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay <=== can't reason its way out of a wet paper bag. NO wonder, look at it's head, there's no room for a brain.

Faycless
Faycless

@DonkeyHotay @Faycless I did NOT support 64. And I don't appreciate being called brain dead....I agree with a lot of what you say, so stop with the name calling.

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay = your penchant/fascination/obsession with gay anal sex, gay fisting, and eating feces is showing again.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@genrebender23

HipTip: The CONSTITUTION ain't the place for clueless clowns to work out their "incremental steps"

@genrebender23 "better than being jailed for mere possession of it."

Simple possession of up to 2 (two) ounces was ALREADY a NO JAIL petty offense prior to A64 ...without arbitrary age restriction.

A64 only allows 1 (one) pathetic ounce, and restricts and excludes EVERYONE under 21 years old, which is the age group that suffers the most arrests for marijuana crimes.

If that's a stoner's idea of "progress", it's no wonder marijuana is still ILLEGAL in Colorado and Nationwide after all these years.

Stoners never fail to fail, it's the easiest thing for their slacker minds to do.


JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

Thank you

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

Who? you or stuka1?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 = way too stupid and pig-ignorant to be a liberal

stuka1
stuka1

@JimTom Who the fuck is a liberal, you fucking idiot?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1

@stuka1 "I have better things to do than respond to your inane babblings [sic]."

Lying Liar!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Mark ... so the AUTHORS and SUPPORTERS of A64 knew -- IN ADVANCE -- that this idiocy was on the table, and yet the authors and supporters of A64 INCLUDED a specific clause in A64 declaring that DUI-m shall be ILLEGAL and they FAILED to preemptively DEFINE the limits of it to prevent this fiasco, eh numbnuts?

Does it hurt to be so stupid and clueless?


Mark
Mark

@DonkeyHotay Another dickhead who didn't get his way and blames all of the worlds problems on a64.  Like I said douche bag, when they proposed this the last two times was it because of a64 which didn't exist yet?  Why don't you try getting outside of the house and interacting with people in real time, or are you too afraid of getting your ass kicked?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Mark "This has nothing to do with A64,"

Damn boy, does it hurt to be so fucking stupid?

@Mark Another retard who didn't read, much less comprehend what A64 proposed.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 "I have better things to do than respond to your inane babblings [sic]."

You can't stop lying, can you chump?


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1

@stuka1 "Already got a greenhouse, not a problem for me. "Artificial watering" is short for no rainwater." 

@stuka1 "Greenhouses use OUTSIDE growing METHODS -- no expensive LIGHTS, no ARTIFICIAL WATERING "

@stuka1 "Did I say I use ONLY rainwater."

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay Kinda stupid for you to spam that everywhere you go.  It proves nothing.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 "ANYTHING is illegal under 21 with A64 for rec purposes"


@stuka1 "DISPLAYING AND POSSESSING over an oz is illegal."


@stuka1 "Growing inside a GREENHOUSE is growing outdoors."

stuka1
stuka1

@DonkeyHotay An errant apostrophe is not an "epic illiterate FAIL". 

Thinking A64 forbids outdoor growing is an Epic Illiterate FAIL.

hth you punkass bitch

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 = epic illiterate FAIL FAIL and FAIL again.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Faycless ... if you didn't support that worthless turd that is A64, then you aren't one of the brain-dead bong-sucking stoners who did.

Why so defensive?


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@stuka1 "I have better things to do than respond to your inane babblings [sic]."

Epic FAIL.

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