Video: Driving-stoned blood tests all over the map in CBS4 report
After the passage of a driving-under-the-influence-of-drugs bill, we wondered if Westword medical marijuana critic William Breathes would ever be able to drive legally again, since he'd registered nearly triple the proposed limit while sober during a 2011 test.
Photos, videos below.
Tonight at 10 p.m., CBS4 dives into the drugged driving debate -- and its tests of various subjects showed wide variations, both when users were stoned and sober.
See a preview video, a clip of a previous TV report on the subject and more below.
As we've reported, driving while stoned has long been illegal under Colorado law. But unlike in the case of alcohol, there's no number at which a marijuana-using driver was considered to be officially impaired -- and cannabis activists saw 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.
Similar pressure's been building in Washington, which joined Colorado this past November in passing a law that allows adults 21 and over in the state to use and possess small amounts of marijuana. Against this backdrop, Seattle's KIRO-TV produced a report this past February that put stoned drivers through their paces in a series of road tests -- and most of them failed badly, by either going far too slow or swerving into cones on a simulated driving course. Here's that package:
Reports like this one provided momentum for the latest THC driving bill, which shared most elements with proposals that fell short in 2011 and 2012, but differed in one significant respect.
All three pieces of legislation established THC intoxication at five nanograms per milliliter of blood, but the first two made the standard per se -- meaning that a test registering five nanograms or more would be seen as irrefutable proof of intoxication. In contrast, the most recent version subbed in the phrase "permissible inference," thereby allowing 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.
Plenty of people still objected to the bill, including marijuana attorney Rob Corry. But it was approved by the Colorado legislature anyhow, and Governor John Hickenlooper is expected to sign it soon.
But given that marijuana reacts differently in each user, how accurately does the five nanogram rule establish impairment? Although Mark Ackerman, who produced the Rick Sallinger-starring segment, concedes that the CBS4 piece on stoned driving doesn't qualify as a scientific study, he feels it raises as many questions as it answers.
Continue for more about the CBS4 report about stoned driving, including photos and a video.