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Reader: Colorado Is Still a Police State When It Comes to Pot

Reader: Colorado Is Still a Police State When It Comes to Pot
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A bill introduced in the Colorado Legislature last week would give law enforcement more leeway when charging drivers with marijuana and drug DUIs, Thomas Mitchell reports. State Representative Dylan Roberts says he supports Colorado's cannabis industry, but when he's not working at the Capitol, Roberts is a deputy district attorney in Eagle County, where he says he's prosecuted hundreds of DUIs.

His prosecutorial experience led him to introduce House Bill 1146, a piece of legislation that would allow police to arrest drivers "for the presumption that a driver is under the influence of marijuana." If passed, the bill would add a new traffic offense to state law: tandem DUI per se. Police could arrest drivers if there is "evidence to believe that a driver had consumed alcohol or drugs, that the driver was substantially incapable of safely operating a vehicle, and that the driver had any measurable amount of a drug in his or her blood or oral fluid."

Readers have some questions about Roberts's proposal...and our coverage of it. Says Jeremiah: 

Wait a second here. A deputy district attorney from Eagle County wants to up his law-and-order creds by introducing legislation in his capacity as a House rep for Eagle and Routt County? Well, being a stickler for upholding the law and all, this old-timer who still remembers the nickel candy bar and the dime bag would like to know why Section 8 of Article V of the Colorado Constitution prohibitions on dual office doesn't apply to Johnny Law when it states: "No senator or representative shall, while serving as such, be appointed to any civil office under this state; and no member of Congress, or other person holding any office (except of attorney-at-law, notary public, or in the militia) under the United States or this state, shall be a member of either house during his continuance in office."

Chris adds: 

I noticed that you didn't list the party of the bill creator Dylan Roberts, unlike how you list the party of Republicans when you discuss them. Typical biased Westword reporting, try not to say anything bad about the Democrats.

Pay attention, Colorado liberals: This a Democrat trying to take away your Fourth Amendment rights. This is one of your proudly elected blue wave Democrats pushing bills that would unduly affect the poor and minorities and still doesn't do anything to standardize the offense of DUID.

Replies Brandon: 

Colorado is a police state. They make more money now that they legalized weed from DUIs, black-market grow busts, etc., etc. than the few misdemeanor pot charges before legalization.

Suggests Ryan: 

How about making an efficient test that can determine sobriety within a three-to-four-hour time frame before changing the law? The difference between alcohol and cannabis is that you can test for impairment at the time of the traffic stop for alcohol, and not for cannabis.

Says Max: 

The Fourth Amendment protects us from warrantless searches... just kidding, now blow in that tube, gives them your blood and urine sample. Say no and you are under arrest, automatic DUI and classified as a habitual offender.

Concludes Deanna: 

How about enforcing a ban on texting and driving? Those people are far, far more scary and dangerous than any pothead I have seen out there. That would make far more sense than this, but since this state is full of idiots, look for that to never happen....

But the numbers—cell phones, guys. People smoking weed are no issue next to that. 

Keep reading for more on driving while stoned...or not.

Reader: Colorado Is Still a Police State When It Comes to Pot
Anthony Camera

"Why It's So Hard to Determine the Real Dangers of Stoned Drivers"

Reader: Colorado Is Still a Police State When It Comes to Pot
iStock/Nastco

"Is Eye Movement the Secret to Detecting Stoned Drivers?"

Colorado's current limit for THC in a driver's blood, 5 nanograms, would be repealed if the legislation passes. According to the bill's language, if a driver is determined to be impaired by a police officer and has a measurable amount of a drug or controlled substance other than alcohol in his blood or oral fluid at the time of driving or within four hours after driving, the driver could be charged with a DUI.

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"The 5 nanogram number is scientifically dubious, and not on the same level [of accuracy] as a 0.08 alcohol limit for drivers," Representative Roberts says. "Someone who's a habitual user could be totally fine to drive at or above 5 nanograms, while someone who doesn't use it a lot could be really impaired at 3 nanograms."

Roberts has a point: We've covered how the nanograms of THC in a driver's blood does not necessarily indicate impairment. In 2011, William Breathes, Westword’s then-pot critic and a habitual medical marijuana user, had his blood tested by a doctor after he’d abstained from cannabis for fifteen hours. Breathes tested at 13.5 nanograms — almost triple the now-legal limit. Although the doctor said that Breathes was “in no way incapacitated,” he noted that his test results would have made him “incapacitated at a lab level.”

What do you think of Roberts's proposal? Post a comment or send an email to marijuana@westword.com.

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