Dear Stoner: I would like to get a test for my THC levels without risking my driving privilege. If the marijuana industry is so smart and innovative, why is nothing being offered to consumers?
Dear Steve: Didn’t know the marijuana industry was responsible for your self-control or driving habits. I probably wouldn’t blame Oskar Blues if I got a DUI; I haven’t needed a breathalyzer to figure out that I’ve had too many since...ever. Still, I can see how the lack of science and clarity behind marijuana impairment is frustrating for all parties involved. Sadly, there isn’t much of a solution on the horizon, because proving marijuana consumption and actual impairment aren’t one and the same — and science can currently only do the former.
The State of Colorado measures marijuana impairment based on the amount of THC nanograms in your bloodstream, with a limit of five nanograms needed to make an arrest (officers can still take you in for less if they feel you’re high). However, proving a pot DUI is difficult, because THC can linger in the bloodstream long after the driver was impaired — if, indeed, the driver ever was. Habitual marijuana users routinely test above the five-nanogram limit more than twelve hours after they last consumed marijuana; infrequent users can test below the limit despite having smoked just a couple hours before, creating a headache for police officers and prosecutors alike. Some companies are trying to develop breathalyzers to better detect THC, but they currently face the sort of accuracy issues leveled at blood tests.
Alcohol breathalyzers didn’t appear overnight, either. Hopefully, THC detection can catch up soon; until then, it’s up to you.
Dear Stoner: I’ve noticed that some shops charge buyers from out of state more. Are we getting discounts, or are they just paying the price of not living in Colorado?
Dear KP: Some (but not all) pot shops will charge more to shoppers with out-of-state IDs, but that’s not because of a state or city tax or anything like that — they’re just charging tourists and transplants more for the right to legally get high in our state. There are some dispensaries that will give you discounts for living or working in the neighborhood if you ask, and the friendlier shops in the mountains give locals discounts to balance out the high prices tourists are willing to pay. Enjoy the preferential treatment while you can; I wouldn’t expect it to continue if more states legalize.
Have a question for our Stoner? Send it to email@example.com or call the potline at 303-293-2222.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.