Marijuana minister files injunction against THC driving law
Reverend Brandon Baker, leader of Colorado's Greenfaith Ministries -- a cannabis-centric congregation out of Nunn, just east of Fort Collins -- thinks that not only is the new pot-driving law unnecessary, but that it also unfairly targets medical and religious users of cannabis.
Rev. Brandon Baker.
In fact, he sees it as such a threat that he filed an injunction in U.S. District Court yesterday to stop it.
In a copy of the injunction obtained by Westword, Baker lists both Governor John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers as defendants, charging that they are specifically charged with protecting the electorate's legal rights -- and they've failed to do so by allowing the legislature to include THC driving limits.
Baker's strongest arguments against that new law focus on Colorado's existing DUI statute, which he says has been sufficient up to this point, achieving a conviction rate higher than 90 percent without any blood nanogram levels. He also argues that blood draws are unconstitutional and that recently passed laws do not create a valid warrant requirement for either arrest or blood draws.
Colorado Attorney General John Suthers.
"There is clear likelihood that irreparable and imminent harm will occur to the state, its people and the defendant directly, should the injunction not be issued," Baker says in the suit. "An injunction will not violate a public interest or any safety at all as there is already constitutional zero tolerance, drugged driving DUI laws in Colorado for all illegal and legal drugs."
Another part of Baker's injunction request centers on a religious exemption to the DUI bill. He spends several pages arguing that the religious use of cannabis is completely legitimate, citing a 1988 Oregon decision involving peyote (which he argues is the same as cannabis) and the Native American Church -- the teachings of which are a major part of his Greenfaith Ministries congregation.
Other arguments don't necessarily hit the mark. At one point, Baker writes that there is "no way to [tell]...whether you are impaired by the metabolites in your piss or blood." While it's true that there is no agreed-upon level of impairment, active THC metabolites -- which is what get you "high" -- can be measured. Baker also brings up recent changes in the World Anti-Doping Administration for athlete marijuana levels from 15 nanograms to 150 nanograms, saying that it is well above Colorado's driving level. The comparison doesn't work, though, as Colorado's law tests for active THC and the WADA is testing for inactive THC.
Baker has since said the WADA mention is meant to hammer home is argument against the existing THC DUI laws as well:
"The fact that the world anti-doping agency revised their piss levels by 10 times to try and show current use, not impairment shows that you can not gauge impairment by blood or piss, which both are used for duis before the bills, thus the reason i challenge the laws as they stand and the new bills as they do not address or correct the violations of the constitution," he wrote to Westword today.
Still, the basis of the argument is one we support. There is an obvious lack of science behind the five nanogram limit in the THC driving bill passed by the state legislature, and it puts innocent Colorado citizens who legally use cannabis at an increased risk of being convicted for a crime they didn't commit.
Read the copy of injunction below:
More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving limit's passage means pot critic William Breathes may never drive legally again."