Finally, a standard for driving stoned

On the second to the last day of the 2013 legislative session, the Colorado Legislature finally approved a bill to set a legal standard to determine when someone is driving under the influence of marijuana.

The approval of House Bill 1325 is the culmination of several years’ effort by state Sen. Steve King of Grand Junction, who has long argued that with medical marijuana and now, legal recreational marijuana, prosecutors need a solid, quantifiable basis for determining when someone is driving under the influence of pot.

King and the bill’s sponsors in the House deserve credit for their persistence in pushing the bill. A similar bill failed in the waning days of the 2012 legislative session, and again in a special session. Another bill was killed earlier this year, and an effort to amend the provisions onto a second bill was blocked.

HB1325 was introduced just last Thursday, but this version moved quickly through the House and Senate with little debate.

The bill doesn’t create as strict a standard as laws on driving under the influence of alcohol do. The drunk-driving laws declare that a person with more than a certain level of alcohol in his or her blood is automatically considered guilty of driving under the influence.

The new marijuana law says that a judge or jury may infer that anyone with more than five nanograms of THC — the active ingredient in marijuana — per liter of blood is guilty of driving under the influence. But the defense may provide evidence to argue why that wasn’t the case.

HB1325 isn’t a perfect bill. But is an important step in assisting law enforcement and prosecutors to curb stoned driving.


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