THC driving bill back on the table for 2013 legislative session

For the third year in a row, the Colorado legislature will likely consider a THC driving bill . Late last week, Senator Steve King, a Mesa County Republican, announced that he would sponsor a proposal in the 2013 session to set a per-se limit for how much THC can be in a driver's system before he's considered to be impaired.

This marks the second time that King has pushed such legislation, and the new proposal looks like essentially the same bill that King tried -- and barely failed -- to pass last year. That measure would have limited THC levels to five nanograms per milliliter of blood.

King's most recent bill got a lot of support last year, making it as far as the special session in May, when it lost by one vote because Senator Nancy Spence had left for vacation a day earlier. Spence supported King's proposal and had voted for the bill in the regular session.

King couldn't be reached for comment, but he's declined to speak with Westword in the past on this issue. That might have something to do with our stories on the lack of science behind the bill and the number of medical marijuana patients who would be negatively impacted by a five-nanogram limit.

Two years ago, when the idea for a limit was first kicked around by Representative Claire Levy, Westword sent me to have my THC levels tested -- after I had abstained from smoking for more than a dozen hours. Before the test, a doctor checked me out and deemed me to be "in no way incapacitated" -- but my blood still came out at nearly three times the proposed legal limit.

State Senator Morgan Carroll agrees with my take and has been one of the THC DUI bill's biggest opponents in the legislature. She argued last year that more science needs to be put into decisions like this. "One might think we are debating whether people can drive high in Colorado or not," she said last April. "I'm pretty sure the vote would be 35 to zero if that were the case, but it's not. There is no question that some people at that five-nanogram level would be impaired. But the problem is that there are also folks at that level who aren't impaired."

The new proposal, currently dubbed Bill Five, will be introduced in January; it passed out of the Transportation Legislation Review committee last Friday.

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Colorado Education Association opposing Amendment 64" and "Marijuana-grow mold study prompts mislabeled Denver Post letter to the editor with real points."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes