Marijuana: THC driving bill reaches senate committee next week -- right after 4/20

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The current incarnation of Colorado House Bill 1114, the THC driving bill gained House approval earlier this month and is headed for the Senate Judiciary Committee next Monday, April 22, after the 4/20 weekend.

Given that timing, several activists -- including Cannabis University founder Michelle LaMay -- are urging 4/20 revelers to use taxis and public transportation, as police may be looking for marijuana-impaired drivers.

Senator Steve King, an outspoken advocate of setting a THC limit, is on the Senate Judiciary Committee; he's also a co-sponsor of HB 1114 this year. He pushed to set THC limits in 2011 and 2012; both efforts failed, which led to a change in strategy this year.

While previous bills attempted to set a hard five nanogram-per-milliliter of blood limit that would be irrefutable in court -- the legal term is "per se" -- HB 1114 would label this standard as a "permissible inference" of intoxication that would allow defendants to introduce evidence to the contrary. The measure's supporters suggest that this would let medical marijuana patients show they weren't impaired at that level. But critics -- and there are many -- say the bill is just as bad as previous versions because it continues to ignore science indicating that five nanograms per milliliter doesn't necessarily mean impairment. Further, they argue that the bill isn't needed at all, since Colorado currently has a roughly 90 percent conviction rate on drugged-driving cases.

"Our current DUI law is incredibly effective," says Colorado NORML director Leonard Frieling in a release. "We are experienced with it. It is not broken. It covers ALL drug and alcohol impairment. A new law on this subject can only present additional opportunities for defense attorneys and additional hardships for citizens, inappropriately."

I agree. Two years ago, I had my blood tested more than twelve hours after I had last used marijuana; a physician had deemed me sober. The results of the test showed that I was nearly three times over the proposed limit.

Activists are urging people to reach out to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee to voice their concerns before Monday. Here are the contacts:

Lucia Guzman, Chair Capitol phone: 303-866-4862 E-mail: lucia.guzman.senate@state.co.us

Jessie Ulibarri, Vice-Chair Capitol phone: 303-866-4857 E-mail: jessie.ulibarri.senate@state.co.us

Irene Aguilar Capitol phone: 303-866-4852 E-mail: irene.aguilar.senate@state.co.us

Steve King Capitol phone: 303-866-3077 E-mail: steve.king.senate@state.co.us

Kevin Lundberg Capitol phone: 303-866-4853 E-mail: kevin@kevinlundberg.com

More from our Mile Highs and Lows archive: "THC blood test: Pot critic William Breathes nearly 3 times over proposed limit when sober."

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