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Colorado's Marijuana DUI Debate: What Do Pot Activists Want?

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Mar 06, 2013 | 0 Comments

Marijuana and DUI
These days, Washington and Colorado are two states which are often cited in the same sentence together. That's because voters in both states recently approved measures which legalized marijuana to a small extent. But it appears that Colorado is lagging behind Washington when it comes to determining DUI laws regarding pot - and in figuring out "how much pot is too much."

In Washington, any level of active THC in the bloodstream which is more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood constitutes a crime. Drivers who are found to exceed this level of THC can be convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana. But Colorado has yet to implement any statutory rules that delineate when a driver is or isn't too stoned to drive.

Colorado lawmakers have been trying to pass legislation to that effect for quite some time. But defense attorneys and pot activists claim that because marijuana affects everyone differently, there shouldn't be a one-size-fits-all standard written into state law.

Perhaps marijuana activists aren't thinking this all the way through. If no objective standard exists, then the onus will likely fall on law enforcement to determine whether an individual driver is too impaired to drive. That determination would likely rest primarily with the arresting officers. And given overall police attitudes toward drugs in the recent past, it's a distinct possibility that drivers would be more likely to be arrested on pot-related DUI charges. While it's true that defendants could fight their charges in court; without an objective intoxication standard, these cases may very well come down to the officer's word against that of the (pot-smoking) defendant at trial. Is that what marijuana activists want? For cops to set the rules instead of the state establishing formal laws?

Many of them may not realize that a statutory marijuana intoxication level, whatever the level is, may serve to protect drivers as much as (or moreso than) it does to assist prosecutors. That way, marijuana users could better estimate how much pot they can consume before it becomes illegal for them to drive. A probable result could be fewer arrests and convictions for pot-related DUIs and an increased level of safety among drivers who also smoke marijuana.

What are your thoughts on the importance of a minimum level of active THC as it related to impaired driving?

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.


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