Marijuana: THC driving bill back from the dead, but will it get vote on Senate floor?

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In addition to a provision calling for marijuana magazines to be treated like porn at general retail outlets, HB 13-1317, the main bill concerning the implementation of Amendment 64, features about twenty pages devoted to establishing a THC driving standard that was seemingly killed by a Senate committee last month.

This section may soon be excised, but the original measure's been reintroduced. What are its odds?

First, some context. As we've reported, a bill to establish an intoxication standard of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood -- a limit based on what critics see as dubious or nonexistent evidence -- was voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee. (The Senate rejected similar bills in 2011 and 2012.) But the concept still has a lot of support in the House and among law enforcement groups, who wrote in a letter to Governor John Hickenlooper and other officials that passing legislation without the THC standard would be irresponsible.

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Warren Edson.
Hence, the hefty amendment to HB 1317, which marijuana attorney Warren Edson described last week as "just the same, regurgitated stuff from the original bill," but made "bigger and broader by absorbing the standard DUI language. All they did was cut and paste the DUI statutes we've already got on the books into the bill."

That wasn't enough for supporters of a standard for driving under the influence of drugs, or DUID. HB 13-1325 -- the original measure nixed by the judiciary committee -- has been reintroduced. See the latest version.below, along with the House-approved edition of 13-1317.

Why push essentially the same measure in two different pieces of legislation? Reached this morning, Edson says he's hearing that Democrats will move to strip out the DUID segment from the main bill in order to consider the reintroduced proposal separately. The reason? The THC driving standard is getting so much attention, and is so divisive, that it has the potential of derailing the main legislative package that needs to pass in order to prevent full-scale rule-making chaos.

In order to accomplish this purpose, will Senate leaders have to make a deal to let the THC driving bill be heard by the full chamber despite it previously being sent packing by the judiciary committee? It's unclear from a procedural standpoint how that might happen, but there's no doubt the pressure to find a way is enormous. But because of the attention being paid to DUID, Edson is afraid some problematic portions of 13-1317 may get lost in the shuffle and wind up in the final bill -- including the aforementioned magazine provision and what he sees as wrongheaded restrictions on the potency of THC edibles.

Still, he understands why DUID has taken center stage yet again. "A lot of the other stuff involves business practices and business rules that are disagreed with," he points out. "But should the DUID rule pass, innocent people will go to jail."

Here's the separate DUID bill, plus the main piece of legislation as passed by the House, which includes a large amount of material on the same subject.

HB 13-1325: Reintroduced Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Bill

House Bill 13-1317: Revised April 29, 2013

More from our Politics archive: "Marijuana retailers may not have to grow their own -- and that's great, attorney says."

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