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Marijuana DUI Bill Passes House Judiciary

LAW WEEK COLORADO

A bill establishing limits on marijuana levesl in Colorado drivers passed a first hurdle on Tuesday.

House Bill 1114 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee and now moves to the appropriations committee.

It’s intended to address Amendment 64, a voter-passed measure legalizing marijuana but that did not set limits on marijuana levels for drivers.

“We can’t kick this down the road any longer,” said House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, a co-sponsor of the bill.

Similar to blood alcohol limits for drunk drivers, under the measure, a driver in Colorado will be considered under the influence of marijuana if five or more nanograms of THC, marijuana’s psycho-active ingredient, is present in a milliliter of whole blood.

Unlike limits on blood alcohol content, however, a driver who reaches the five nanogram limit can argue in court that he or she is unimpaired at five nanograms because of their tolerance, size or other contributing factor. This “permissive inference” helps address the concerns of medical marijuana users who are chronically above five nanograms but function as if they were sober.

“This is about public safety,” Rep. Fields said. “The voters have told us with Amendment 64 that we have to come up with regulations to govern recreational marijuana use, but we certainly don’t want our streets full of stoned drivers endangering law-abiding citizens.”  

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