Earlier this week, the DUID-marijuana working group formed under the auspices of the state Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ) decided not to recommend specific THC driving limits, as a bill tabled during the last legislative session attempted to do. Below, the Medical Marijuana Industry Group's Michael Elliott, a member of the working group, explains his opposition.
Last March, during an interview with Westword, Elliott didn't take an official position on HB 1261, sponsored by Representative Claire Levy, which would have set a THC impairment standard of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. "We support the concept of the bill," he said. "We want to do everything we can to make sure our patients are safe drivers, and we share that concern with the sponsors of the bill." However, he added, "we want to make sure that any state DUI standard should be measurable and based on sound science." In his view, there was "a lack of research on this issue, and what we're most concerned about is edibles and the appropriate time frames for safe consumption when it comes to impairment."
In the end, the measure was designated for more study shortly after test results showed that Westword medical marijuana reviewer William Breathes was nearly triple the proposed limit when sober. The eight-member DUID-marijuana working group, co-chaired by attorney Sean McAllister and Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson, is part of that process. Its recommendation not to create a per se THC driving limit, at 5 nanograms or any other level, will be considered at 1:30 p.m. next Wednesday by the CCJJ's Drug Policy Task Force.
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Elliott was one of four working group members to argue against a per se limit. In a statement provided to Westword, he describes his logic.
As a member of the DUI Workgroup, MMIG has fought to protect patient rights, promote public safety, and ensure that any recommended change to Colorado's DUI laws be based in science. After a comprehensive review of the literature, half of the DUI Workgroup members, including myself and Sean McAllister, agreed that the science does not support a 5 nanogram per se limit. Rather, a 5 nanogram per se limit would criminalize the unimpaired, while offering defendants little opportunity to demonstrate their innocence. It is MMIG's position that the current law, which has resulted in a 90 percent conviction rate over the past 4 years, is superior to a per se law. By being responsible business owners and patients, we reduce the need for the government to legislate this type of misinformed measure. We encourage business owners and patients to help spread this message - Don't use medical marijuana and drive.
Apropos of the last line, MMIG is working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to promote its new campaign against Drugged Driving .
More from our Marijuana archive: "THC driving bill on hold: William Breathes blood test results a factor, advocate says."