King’s driving-while-stoned bill is killed again
DENVER — Even though it isn’t as strict as a measure approved in the Colorado Senate last year, a Senate panel Monday killed a bill that would have established a blood standard for being too stoned to drive.
The bill, HB1114, had cleared the Colorado House on a bipartisan 57–6 vote.
But when Sen. Steve King, R-Grand Junction, brought the measure before the Senate Judiciary Committee, some on that panel said they feared the bill potentially would have unfairly snagged medical marijuana patients.
King, however, said that shouldn’t matter.
“Just because they have permission to use medical marijuana does not give them the privilege of driving under the influence of that,” King said.
The bill died on a 4–1 vote.
Last year, King squeaked the bill past the Senate by a single vote only later to see it die in the House when it was sacrificed by House Republican leaders in an effort to kill a bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples.
During an immediate special session right after that happened, King brought the bill back, but it died by a single vote when one of his supporters did not attend that special session.
The bill seemed doomed to die before more than two dozen people testified on it. Three of the five members of the committee who were in the Legislature last year — Sens. Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, and Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud — opposed the idea. They all voted against it again on Monday.
Freshman Sen. Jessie Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, also voted against the bill, leaving King casting the lone affirmative vote.
This year, King and House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, had the issue considered and approved by the Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice over the summer.
That panel, however, approved a lesser legal standard to prove a motorist is too stoned to drive.
The bill called for a standard of 5 nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of blood, but made the legal standard for proving it a “rebuttable inference,” making it easier for defendants to show they weren’t necessarily impaired.