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Marijuana advocates prepare to fight THC driving bill

Senator Steve King's proposed THC driving bill, which would set an intoxication standard of five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood for medical marijuana patients and a zero-tolerance level for non-patients, is up for discussion on Monday.

And opponents are gearing up for a fight.

A similar bill was shelved last year after activists argued it would essentially put the brakes on driving for all medical marijuana patients. Though this version of the bill does give some consideration to medical marijuana patients who develop a tolerance level and may store active THC in their system for longer periods of time, critics have argued that the science to establish a five-nanogram baseline just doesn't exist and that setting the bar so low could criminalize legal MMJ patients.

One of those critics is Democratic senator Morgan Carroll of Aurora who told our Michael Roberts back in January that she still hasn't seen enough science to support a nanogram limit.

"I've seen ranges from five to twenty nanograms, which is a profound range of variation," she noted. "And it's already against the law to drive intoxicated. So if you're going to add pot per se, it's because you think you have enough scientific data to establish a point where people become impaired."

Another critic was me. When last year's bill was proposed, I took a series of blood tests while sober to see if I would blow past the five-nanogram limit. And I did -- by a lot. Even after more than twelve hours without medicating and a full night's sleep, leaving me unimpaired according to a licensed physician, I tested at nearly three times the proposed limit, with about 13.5 nanograms of active THC still lingering in my system.

King has told media outlets in Grand Junction that the evidence backing the proposal is "in the blood of innocent people killed by DUI-D drivers." Keep in mind this is the same guy who argued that his friend, Representative Laura Bradford, was "innocent until proven guilty" of a DUI even though she admitted to having a few drinks before her recent traffic stop debacle. "I believe you're innocent until proven guilty, and I believe that it's unfortunate that she didn't have the opportunity to prove her innocence," he told Grand Junction's Channel 11.

King has declined past Westword interview requests on the bill, saying he didn't have time to talk about the proposal. But he'll definitely be talking about it on Monday, when Senate Bill 117 is slated for discussion before the Senate's State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee at 1:30 p.m. at the Capitol.

If you're planning on testifying, Twirling Hippy Confections founder Jessica LeRoux is organizing a coaching session tonight at 7:30 p.m. to help refine your two-minute speech and make sure it's in sync with other speakers. Get more info in the release below:

"Come to a meeting to prepare for SB12-117 DUID hearing on Thursday the 23rd at the offices of Edson Maytin Matz, 3888 E Mexico Ave, Denver CO conference room, 7:30 p.m.-9 p.m. We will be strategizing our testimonies and offering coaching to get testimony into 2 minutes blocks which are complimentary rather than redundant. Please attend and bring a friend, plenty of free parking! Please share this status and spread the word, we need bodies at the CO state Capitol on Monday the 27th to testify against SB12-117 the DUID blood nanogram bill."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana: Could Fort Collins ban lead to hundreds of new home grows?" and "Medical marijuana registry numbers see small increase at end of 2011."


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