THC driving bill up for final reading, activist fears passage after previous failed attempts
Yesterday, most of the drama at the State Capitol involved an Amendment 64 repeal proposal that fell short. But while that was happening, a THC driving standard proposal that had apparently been killed by a Senate committee last month not only rose from the dead but passed two readings. It's headed to the Senate floor today, and marijuana attorney Warren Edson, who's been updating us on a measure he sees as dangerous and unjust, thinks only a massive response from opponents can prevent it from becoming law.
On April 1, we published "Marijuana: THC driving bill continues steady march to passage," and the headline accurately reflected the measure's progress at that time. But over the course of the next several weeks, the proposal 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 -- suddenly hit a major roadblock.
As we've reported, the measure was voted down by the Senate Judiciary Committee. (The Senate rejected similar bills in 2011 and 2012.) But the concept still had 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.
Supporters subsequently affixed a hefty amendment about the THC standard to HB 1317, the main bill to regulate and implement Amendment 64. Last week, Edson described the twenty pages or so of material 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."
Shortly thereafter, HB 13-1325 -- the original measure nixed by the judiciary committee -- was reintroduced. (See it below.) For a time, both it and HB 1317, which contained the same driving-standard restrictions, were moving forward simultaneously. But Edson speculated that the language would be stripped out of the larger bill -- and he feared that the separate proposal would fly under the radar, winning approval from senators more focused on the larger proposal.
That's precisely what happened. Speaking this morning, Edson says "they stuck it onto the big bill, 1317, and tried to get it to stick -- but when that ran the risk of tanking the big bill, they created a new, little bill. It's the same 22 pages that was in 1317, but taking it out removed the controversy -- and it passed two readings yesterday.
Here's the measure's legislative history to date:
03/09/2012 Introduced In House - Assigned to JudiciaryIs there anything that can stop the bill at this point?
03/27/2012 House Committee on Judiciary Refer Amended to Appropriations
04/17/2012 House Committee on Appropriations Refer Unamended to House Committee of the Whole
04/19/2012 House Second Reading Laid Over Daily
04/23/2012 House Second Reading Passed with Amendments
04/24/2012 House Third Reading Passed
04/25/2012 Introduced In Senate -- Assigned to Judiciary
05/04/2012 Senate Committee on Judiciary Refer Amended to Appropriations
05/08/2012 Senate Committee on Appropriations Refer Amended to Senate Committee of the Whole
Continue for more about the THC driving bill.