Colorado and Washington are the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana. In Colorado, Amendment 64 allows the possession of up to one ounce of pot for adults over the age of 21. Adults living in the state may also grow up to six plants for personal use. In 2014 stores may also commercially sell marijuana, but there are more decisions which must be made first by the legislature to determine how they will be regulated. Pot smoking remains illegal in public spaces such as sidewalks and parks.
DUI and the legalization of pot
The Colorado legislature has been reviewing a bill which could be used to establish a legal limit for pot use and driving. Under the bill a legal limit for pot use and driving would be based on the nanograms of THC per 100 milliliters of blood which state drivers register in blood tests given by law enforcement officials.
The bill, known as House Bill 13-1114, would have made 5 nanograms of THC per 100 milliliters marijuana’s equivalent of the 0.08 blood alcohol content limit for drivers. Drivers with this amount of marijuana in their blood could be arrested for DUI due to pot use.
House Bill 13-1114 Rejected by Senate Judiciary Committee
After a lengthy hearing, the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee rejected House Bill 13-1114 by a vote of 4-1. The committee rejected the bill and the proposed blood level standard because they claim there was a lack of scientific information about marijuana content in blood and its impact on public safety.
“Lawmakers who voted against the bill pointed Monday to Colorado’s recent vote [to legalize marijuana], too. They wondered whether increased marijuana use could prompt overzealous blood sampling in impaired-driving cases,” the report said.
Some argue the recent Supreme Court case may have impacted the vote of the bill. Under the court’s recent decision if a driver does not consent to a blood alcohol test the police must get a warrant before a blood sample is taken from a driver.
Measures to pass similar bills have been rejected by the Colorado legislature before, but proponents claim more laws will be offered to the Senate in the future. Others suggest similar measures are likely to be proposed within a year or may be added to current legislation under review.
For example, Representative Dan Pabon has proposed amending the stoned-driving limit into House Bill 1317 (which details rules for recreational marijuana stores and includes provisions that would allow growers and sellers to operate separately). If a DUI provision is added to this bill it must be done within 2 weeks so it can be reviewed prior to the close of the current legislative session.
The bottom line is lawmakers need to offer some type of clarity for the police who are tasked with ensuring stoned drivers are not driving and posing a risk to other drivers. Because Colorado state DUI laws are under review if you are arrested for driving under the influence of drugs in Colorado you should contact a DUI lawyer.
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