Colo. marijuana DUI bill amended to become study

DENVER — Colorado senators on Monday diluted a proposal that would have set the country’s most liberal limit for what’s legally considered too high to drive, changing the bill so that it effectively becomes a study on the issue of marijuana impairment.

A subtle tinge of pot smoke permeated a committee room as the senators voted to amend the bill, handing a victory to medical marijuana advocates who argued they would be unfairly targeted.

Sen. Steve King, one of the bill’s sponsors, disagreed with committee’s decision to have a state commission study what is a proper level to consider a driver impaired.

“It’s a study at the risk of lives,” said the Republican from Mesa County.

It’s already illegal in any state to drive while impaired by drugs, but what constitutes impairment is often subjective. The bill proposed to set a blood-content threshold that would allow prosecutors to charge drivers if they have a level of at least 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

Law enforcement groups support the bill, saying it will provide a benchmark similar to the one that exists for how much alcohol someone can have in the blood while driving.

Opponents of the legislation argued that there is no clear science that shows what level of THC makes someone too high drive. Medical marijuana advocates also claimed that daily users of the drug develop higher tolerance levels that allow them to drive safely.


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