Marijuana driving limits expected to get final House OK today

A bill making it easier for prosecutors to convict people of driving high on marijuana is expected to receive final approval in the Colorado House of Representatives today, after the bill cleared a potentially decisive hurdle late Monday. The bill would make it a crime to drive with more than a certain amount of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — in your blood. A nearly identical proposal appeared headed for passage during this year’s regular legislative session. But it became entangled last week in the end-of-session fight over civil unions and died on the calendar. Approval by the full House was the only test the regular-session bill didn’t face. The new bill, introduced during a special legislative session to take up measues that died in the civil unions fight, won initial approval late Monday in the House on a counted — but not recorded — stand up-sit down vote. The bill, HB12S-1005, will have a recorded vote in the House this morning before going over to the Senate, where the regular-session version passed by a single vote. Unless any lawmakers change their minds on the measure, it now appears likely to pass. Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he supports the bill. The development comes to the dismay of medical-marijuana activists who argue that the proposed limit — 5 nanograms of THC per mililiter of blood — is too low and would result in near-certain convictions for sober drivers. Medical-marijuana patient Jackie Edwards said there are no guidelines for how much someone can consume and still be under 5 nanograms — or how long patients should wait after using to ensure they are below the limit. The bill would effectively force tens of thousands of medical-marijuana patients off the road, she said. “I have no way to test myself to know what my nanograms are,” Edwards said. “… I know when I’m impaired.” Mike Elliott, the executive director of the Medical Marijuana Industry Group, urged lawmakers Monday night to raise the limit to 15 nanograms. At that level, he said, it would be more certain that everybody would be impaired. But supporters of the bill counter that the vast majority of people would be impaired at 5 nanograms and would need to wait only about two to three hours after using to fall below the limit. They argue that, even if some people might not be impaired at 5 nanograms, it is important to send a strong message. “We have to do something to alter the perception that it is OK to smoke weed and get behind the wheel and drive,” said Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, one of the bill’s sponsors.

via : DenverPost

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