THC DUI bill moves forward, passing out of committee
Category: News | Posted on Fri, March, 11th 2011 by THCFinder
Medical Marijuana patients and recreational users of the drug filled the Old Supreme Court chambers of the Capitol Thursday as they emotionally testified against a bill to make driving while high a DUI per se. Targeting what they said were faulty or old studies, medical marijuana users failed to convince the House Judiciary Committee that marijuana did not pose a risk to themselves and others while they drove. The vote passed 6-3 with many members absent.
As introduced, HB 1261 makes driving with a blood content of 5 nanograms of THC or more a misdemeanor and creates the presumption that the person is driving under the influence of drugs as a result. The offense would essentially be treated the same as a DUI for alcohol.
“Some folks say that we are going to prevent legitimate medical marijuana users from exercising their right to drive,” bill cosponsor Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said. “Well it is currently against the law to drive under the influence of marijuana just like it is any drug.”
Many of those testifying against the bill called into question the 5 nanogram per se limit and called for an 8 nanogram limit if there was to be a limit at all. They said that many long-term medical marijuana users have developed a tolerance that allows them to perform better than occasional users.
A number of experts testified to the effect that while a person may think they are not affected their body is not performing up to speed. They said one test that is done, for example, is to see if someone can cross their eyes–an action that those too heavily under the influence cannot perform.
Waller said the presumption of impairment can be rebutted, while Boulder Democrat Claire Levy said simply the bill was necessary to protect public safety.
“Whether you are a marijuana patient or not, it is a bill about public safety,” co-sponsor Levy said. “There are studies to support this result. Law enforcement, I think will behave responsibly in having probable cause to stop and to require a blood test and I think it is just a matter of common sense.
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