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Colorado marijuana driving bill dies

Marijuana driving limits die on Colorado House floor

It was expected to pass.

A bill making it easier to convict people of driving high on marijuana was among the more than two dozen bills sacrificed in the Colorado House Tuesday night during a gridlocked debate over civil unions.

The 5 nanogram limit would have been better than what we have in Illinois (0), but it still would have been based on fear rather than science.

The Drug Czar’s office has been kicking up a storm of fear about drivers high on marijuana without doing the science to determine the level of danger and any real measure of impairment. As far as I can tell, the 5 nanogram limit was a rather arbitrary amount.

What this means is that prosecutors must continue to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis.

And what’s wrong with that?

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30 comments to Colorado marijuana driving bill dies

  • Peter

    5 nanograms is not “similar” to the alchol level of .08 as a measurement of impairment

  • MaineGeezer

    The threshold dose for LSD is 20 micrograms, which is considered to be a remarkably small quantity for a drug to have any perceived effect. When Albert Hoffman first tried LSD, he took 250 micrograms believing that was such a small amount it would have little or no effect. So 20 micrograms is really tiny.

    5 nanograms is 1/4000th of that. While that is the measured blood level vs. the LSD dosage level, I don’t believe there is any way in the world that 5 nanograms of THC could have any effect whatsoever.

    • Matthew Meyer

      MaineGeezer, you may be right, buy you’ve got a lotta milliliters of blood in ya, and the 5 nanos is in each of those. My reading indicates most people are pretty high at that level.

      Pete, if you start writing about DUID and Washington’s I-502, you’re going to get visits from the Troll Brigade that hangs out at tokeofthetown.

      I wonder how they’d like the couch?

      • Jose

        When they arrive can we kindly direct them to the side of the couch where the springs are poking through the cushions? That spot is also down wind of the fan and we know what happens when we get to relaxed on the couch!

        • claygooding

          As long as I have the remote,,I don’t give a shit where they sit,,but I am getting tired of trying to explain removing a faulty dui law is easier than ending 75 years of prohibition.

        • Jose

          I agree, it is almost aggravating how some are so hinged on the dui provision as a make or break detail.

          I feel like it is isolated to people in states where it is almost “legal” already. Maybe they have forgotten the tyranny in other states and feel comfortable cherry-picking.

          Meanwhile, I hope we all have an excuse to vacation in Colorado next year!

      • Plant Down Babylon

        If you have a differing opinion on I-502 you’re a troll?

        You’re pretty high at 5ng??!

        Are you a Kop? Who do you work for?

        If Gil is pushing for 5ng as a measure of impairment, then any reasonable person should be 110% AGAINST it.

        • Plant Down Babylon

          Matthew,

          The cop comment was lame, i admit. my apologies.

          It’s just this whole unsubstantiated DUID thing has gotten me very upset. We know the Kops twist any law they can to screw us over.

          We’re all fighting for the same thing, i just don’t see how 502 is going to help. Darkcycle, Duncan, ANYONE, help me understand how this is going to be a good thing.

          I have way too many people i know who were screwed with dui’s (they deserved em, im sure) but there are soooo many felonies attached to this bill.

          By the way, I stepped in 3 dog poops while mowing my lawn after my last comment, so i had to apologize!

        • claygooding

          It is hard to explain that legalized marijuana for any amount for adults is the first step,,not the end,,any faults can be worked out,,including faulty dui tickets.

          And if 502 fails the state legislature can pass a duic per se drug law with no legalization attached too it,,then what have you got?

          Since the government has no data proving that 5 ng is a definitive measurement I am sure lawyers are rubbing their hands together with anticipation.

          It is a problem in WA because it is so close to being legal that most can’t see the forest for the trees and so may are saying full legalization or nothing,,and nothing is what they will get.

          It saddens me that people think Mary Jane will not eventually end all these problems on it’s own,,when enough people discover you can get ripped and never have a hangover.

        • darkcycle

          Well said Clay. Well said. PDB, there are per se limits for alcohol too. You will obviously need to have fucked up somewhere for them to go to the trouble of testing you. Reality is that even sobriety tests are not given as a rule in ordinary traffic stops, so why would it be any more common to test drivers for THC? Okay, so levels can linger for a number of days. If there’s no reason to test you, again, why would that matter? The reality is that if they catch you right now with any dope at all, stoned or straight, you will go to jail (absent a doctor’s rec, but not everybody has one, nor should everybody have to GET one). Clay is right that it is easier to change an onerous traffic law than reverse seventy years plus of absolute prohibition. If you think continuing prohibition is worth not having a per se law, I would urge you to visit the Drug War Victims page at left, or think of Patricia Spottedcrow, doing thirty years for selling ten grams. Patricia won’t see her children until they’re adults…FOR WEED. Sorry about the caps, but it does bear repeating….PATRICIA SPOTTEDCROW IS DOING THIRTY YEARS FOR A FUCKING WEED. And some of the potheads in Washington are worried about the 24 hours that they might have to spend in the slammer if they maybe have an accident and get tested. Right now, cops can kick your door down, shoot your dogs (maybe your children by “mistake”), and destroy your home while holding you at gunpoint. And if they get the wrong house, no biggie.
          Please remember your sense of perspective.

  • N.T. Greene

    Man, how the hell are they financing these on-the-spot THC blood tests for impairment anyways? You’d have to be pretty high just to consent to the blood test, I think.

    And how do you catch a stoned driver anyways? Gotta keep a good lookout for those people following the speed limit or driving slower than the limit. Man, they’re a threat to the safety of every drunk on the road! We’re just going to have to pull over every single law-abiding driver JUST TO MAKE SURE NO ONE IS SMOKING THAT REEFER, YOU KNOW!?

    • Duncan20903

      .
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      Consent is given when they issue your driver’s license, the same as for a breathalyzer. In California they’ll do a forced blood draw if you refuse.

      How do they catch a stoned driver? I sure can’t speak from personal experience as in almost 35 years as both a licensed driver and a Cannabinoidian I’ve never once been investigated for suspicion of impaired driving. It’s a major reason why per se limits don’t bother me. BTW if you want to argue why I should be concerned you’re best argument starting point is the fact that I have a rather rare genetic trait and simply don’t get bloodshot eyes after choosing to enjoy cannabis. Seriously, I can be stoned to the bejeezuz and my eyeballs will still be as white as the fur on the albino squirrel that I relocated last week.

      My presumption is that most people who get arrested for cannabis addled driving made the rather dimwitted mistake of choosing to enjoy cannabis while in their vehicle and choosing smoking as the delivery method. For some unknown reason it seems to me that most people who choose smoking aren’t worried about losing all that smoke to the sidestream. Then there are the people who have fallen for the absurdity that confession is good for the soul. Getting caught in possession while driving in the “zero tolerance” States is probably another one since it’s a damn good bet that anyone with a little bit of pot in their pocket almost certainly has a few nanograms of THC-cooh in their urine.

      I submit that it just isn’t difficult to avoid being investigated for suspicion of impaired driving after choosing to enjoy cannabis. Perhaps I’m wrong an it’s much more common than my personal experience suggests. How about everyone reading this who’s ever been investigated for suspicion of impaired driving/cannabis for whatever reason chime in? I don’t even care if you were subsequently busted, I don’t think people are even getting puled over in the first place.

      • darkcycle

        Duncan, you’re also not a dreadlocked twenty-something in a beat up subaru with phish stickers all over it. That being said, I avoided all hassles with the cops while being a long-haired piece of biker-trash for a good two decades before I started cutting my hair and sporting professional togs. And I did it by (mostly 😉 ) obeying traffic laws and being responsive and polite on the numerous occasions I was stopped. I was once asked to kindly try to keep my speed in the double digits by a sheriff who then let me go with a compliment on my ability to negotiate a high speed corner.

        • Duncan20903

          .
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          I used to have hair down to my ass. Literally, it was when I sat down on and pulled my hair that I finally went to get it cut. My cars have always been beat up although I’ve never been a bumper sticker kind of guy. I simply refuse to pay up to impress people I’ve never seen before and likely never will again and I can’t tell what the darn car looks like when I’m driving it. That’s all included in the almost 35 years in which I’ve never been investigated for suspicion of impaired driving.

          I’m still waiting for someone to tell me it has happened to them, dreadlocked, bumper sticker sporting Phish fans included. C’mon, somebody has to have been pulled over right after or even while puffing on a joint. But until someone convinces me that there’s an actual effin’ problem I see the obsession with the opposition to per se limits as a classic case of perfection as the enemy of the good. Not to mention that affirmative defenses are almost worthless in a plea bargain world.

          P.S. One of my brothers in law, now a retired cop, gave me what turned out to be some very valuable advice when I was twentyish…most cops see themselves as working stiffs doing their time to collect a paycheck. As a part of their job they get to spend their most of time dealing with assholes with a predilection to lying. All you have to do to differentiate yourself is to treat them like regulation human beings. Please be advised that this philosophy isn’t intended to extend to dog shooting SWAT team members.

  • Duncan20903

    .
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    This is also 2 years in a row that the measure has failed in Colorado. Then again it took Florida lawmakers 3 sessions to outlaw zoophilia. (No Senator, really, whether doing that is legal or not those pictures will ruin your career if they get out into the public domain. Heee-haw!)

  • claygooding

    You would not believe the fighting over the dui law attached to the WA I-502,,I mean wow.

    Although I and none I know of have ever been administered a roadside impairment test,,I am an uncaring son of a bitch if I vote for legalization and subject medical marijuana users to a “possible” dui ticket,,,what a concept.

    The divide and conquer tactic is working like a charm for the feds. And on top of that,,they are mad at NORML beccause they support 502 and cannot understand how NORML is fighting the DUI law in CO but supporting the one in WA,,I keep explaining that if the dui law in CO had a legalization law in it,,Norml would support it but they just can’t seem to get it,,,more of a paycheck blocking understanding I think.

  • claygooding

    I wonder if everyone went in public at the same time and smoked a reefer if the overload on the police and courts would end this shit? OHH and plead not guilty and asked for a speedy trial.

    • Clay, this seriously makes a lot of sense. Even in relatively small numbers it could be an effective activism tool. I wish it were possible, but I understand the apprehension to getting arrested. It does stir the imagination though.

      How many people would it take to clog a court system? That number would be different in all the jurisdictions across America, typically the county level for possession arrests. There are 365 days in a year. How many trials for possession can they handle? 10 per day? More? Less? How much it would cost them? How many jurors would they have to call that would be exposed face to face to cannabis prohibition?

      That could have a huge impact. Do it one county or a few to get it started and help it spread across the U.S. county by county (or court jurisdiction). Would 5,000 people in an average county be enough to clog their courts? 5,000 trials times the number of jurors per trial would be a huge chunk of the population is most counties. The 5,000 activists don’t even have to reside in that county, they can come from anywhere, but preferably close enough to attend court proceedings should it come to that.

      Which state has the lowest penalty for cannabis possession that would also allow for a speedy court trial? Perhaps easier to get volunteers there if the penalties are less severe. Which smaller counties with less resources that could be targeted?

      I bet we’d see them avoiding the trials a few different ways. Refusing to make the arrests for one, which would still provide us with media opportunities. If arrests were made, they could decide to throw all of them out and not prosecute, which is another media opportunity. We would have to keep going county by county until somebody takes the bait. Keep doing it in the same county over and over until they are forced to act.

      Can we find 5,000 people willing to show up and be arrested for cannabis possession, if it comes to that? I don’t know. I would do it.

      Alpine County, California has a population of around 1,200. Not far from Lake Tahoe. What is their court system like, would this be possible there? How many people would it take to clog it? A pool of 1,200 jurors, if that is how it works there, wouldn’t be hard to tire out. Are there 5,000 people in CA and NV or that area willing to follow through with it? If they won’t arrest, would doing it again every couple months have an impact?

      What would it take to get this started? One of the current orgs, like NORML, getting more money and resources and volunteers to get it off the ground? A new org?

      If only the couch were real and we could combine the brilliant minds here in a room to pick each other’s brains and flesh out an idea like this.

      • Thinking more about this for my area I came across this.

        http://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/14528465

        CHILLICOTHE — The Summer Camp music festival that has become as synonymous with drugs for locals as tunes for out-of-towners led to a backlog at the Peoria County Jail.

        Several police agencies patrolled Illinois Route 29, the main road to Three Sisters Park, on Thursday, the day before the first of about 60 bands were scheduled to take the stages at the three-day festival.

        They pulled over vehicles for beads hanging from rear view mirrors obstructing views, for crossing solid yellow lines, for speeding or improper lane usage. As one officer spoke to the driver, a K-9 unit would pull up to walk a dog around the vehicle.

        The types of drugs seized after the searches were as varied as the home states of those arrested for possession: marijuana, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, cocaine, Ecstasy, nitrous oxide and other unidentified pills, powders and paraphernalia from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

        In all, 27 people were booked into the Peoria County Jail on felony drug charges by early Friday. Of those, 14 went before a judge Friday afternoon.

        “We’re trying to process them as quick as we can,” said Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy.

        Friday afternoon’s bonding court took nearly an hour, well more than the usual 10 to 15 minutes, as each person appeared before Circuit Judge Timothy Lucas. Bonds were set ranging from $5,000 to $30,000. Only three cases, prosecutors indicated, resulted from an undercover agent trying to buy drugs while inside the park. Rather, nearly all came as a result of traffic violations.
        ——-
        The Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, IL (Peoria County) claims an attendance of about 15,000. It happens every year, and every year they arrest dozens of people for drugs. From this article, even 27 arrests put a strain on them. Imagine what a few thousand would do?

        This years festival in coming up May 25-27. Not enough time to organize something, but another one Memorial Day weekend in 2013 most likely. The imagination stirs. Perhaps already have a pool of volunteers from the 15,000 music festival attendees. Do it close to the festival. Peoria has a population of about 185,000 people.

        http://norml.org/laws/penalties/item/illinois-penalties

        5,000 people would certainly overload their system. 3,000 probably would too. Just drive down Route 29 with beads on your rearview and try to get pulled over before heading to the cannabis possession freedom rally. (It needs a name.) I’m tempted to drive that road with beads this year, clean, so they waste their time with me.

        Can we find 2,999 more people to do this with me in 2013, assuming I’m still around? Hmmm.

        http://summercampfestival.com/

  • christy

    Like research volunteers consuming alcohol and driving a car around cones, maybe if they allowed researchers to actually study with a standard sample of pot on volunteers, then we would know what human limits are according to what science says. To date, I know of no report that shows this sort of research was carried out in human subjects to determine the 5 ng limit. It’s just another backdoor way to continue jailing people once states legalize marijuana.

    • Jose

      The studies I have seen only imply that there is minimal effect on driving abilities.

      For example the study Robbe&Hanlon NHTSA DOT HS 808 078 (1993) stated in closure “Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance, and will compensate where they can (for example) by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THC’s adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.”

      I think the limit is a b.s. attempt to placate the fence sitters and people like M.A.D.D. Unfortunately, the devil wants her dues.

    • Duncan20903

      That reminds me of one of my boilerplate rants. Please try to remember that choosing to enjoy cannabis does not necessarily impair one’s driving abilities.

      The first time I heard the lame excuse that we can’t re-legalize because we don’t have a “pot breathalyzer” was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter had included decriminalization of petty possession in his campaign platform. Here we are, more than 35 years later and people are still trotting out that tired old nag. Exactly how many decades are needed to invent such a device, if it’s so important? Why is it that people think it’s OK to arrest people who have not and likely will never go out driving impaired in the name of highway safety? It would be sheer absurdity to claim that enjoying cannabis causes everyone who uses it to go out driving impaired. I never do so, and quite simply because I place a high value on being alive and being able to walk from here to there on my own two legs.

      The first State to criminalize drunken driving was New York State in 1910. The breathalyzer was not invented until 1953, and did not become the ubiquitous tool of law enforcement that we know until almost 1970. I assure you, there were plenty of people convicted of impaired driving in the intervening six decades. Today’s Courts and juries have a much easier time returning a conviction because of the now ubiquitous dash cam which allows them to view the field sobriety test.

      If you want 6 months to develop your precious device that might be acceptable. If you want another decade or three then forget about it. You’ve had your chance and decided that the propaganda value of not having such a device was more important. I’m sick and tired of hearing people say that I should be arrested because they’re scared that someone else might go out driving while impaired. You people just have no motivation to develop such a device as long as you can use it’s not existing in propaganda to maintain the idiocy of absolute prohibition. Enough is enough.

  • claygooding

    Marijuana and Driving: A Review of the Scientific Evidence

    http://norml.org/library/item/marijuana-and-driving-a-review-of-the-scientific-evidence

    The same simulators used for testing people on alcohol were used immediately following ingestion,,however,no one took blood tests for levels in test subjects.

    The testers report that a person driving while high increases the danger of having an accident the same amount that driving 5 mph over the speed limit.

    Maybe that is why potheads drive 5 mph under the speed limit.

    • Duncan20903

      .
      .

      If my observations are correct most people think that cruise control enables them to avoid getting speeding tickets from a spell of absent mindedness behind the wheel. I’m thrilled with the advent of the device because now I can finally keep the darn car going a few miles an hour over the speed limit.

      Did you know there actually was a cop in Canada that tried pulling a guy over and searching his car because he found the fact that the car was doing precisely the speed limit to be highly suspicious? It being Canada the judge tossed the case. It would bring the entire system of justice into disrepute to allow such an unreasonable basis for a search you know.
      ———-
      I think the limit is a b.s. attempt to placate the fence sitters and people like M.A.D.D. Unfortunately, the devil wants her dues.

      So what’s your proposal to gain the support of the fence sitters? Have you ever been investigated for suspicion of impaired driving after choosing to enjoy cannabis? Have you ever known someone who has been? Have you heard the Cannabinoidians that live in the so called “zero tolerance” States crying the blues over them and their friends getting arrested for cannabis addled driving?

      Whether it is or isn’t a real issue isn’t relevant. There’s an awful lot of people who think that it’s perfectly reasonable to keep cannabis illegal for everyone because there’s no “standards” or “breathalyzer equivalent.” The prohibitionists have been using that line for more than 3 decades IME. The first time I heard that line was in 1976 when Jimmy Carter included Federal decrim of petty possession as a plank in his run for President.

      To me it’s an absolutely fantastic compromise, because in reality it’s no compromise at all. IMHO if you’re getting pulled over for suspicion of impaired driving for cannabis, you’re an effin’ idiot.

  • strayan

    New Zealand have just decided against random roadside drug testing as well: http://www.simonbridges.co.nz/index.php?/categories/3-Press-Release

  • Canna Wes

    Colorado has ramped up the testing of those who smell of pot in order to prove that DUI-THC is a problem. In 2011, over 10,000 were stopped, arrested, and forced into a blood draw. Of these, only 754 exceeded 5 ng/ml of active THC. Colorado has 612,000 annual, 400,000 monthly pot smokers, so the odds remain quite low. In comparison, 27,000 are arrested for DUI-alcohol every year.

    • Duncan20903

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      I’d like to know how many of the 754 were able to mount a successful affirmative defense and avoid a conviction. That is the only thing that goes away with adoption of the per se “limit” you know. I also wonder, would a per se presumption of guilt at 5 ng/ml enhance the ability for an accused with a lower number to mount a successful affirmative defense? It’s almost impossible for a prosecutor to get a conviction for DUI when the BAC registers lower than 0.08. No, it’s not impossible under the law to get convicted when under the per se limit. It’s amazing how many people think that a BAC of 0.07999 means the person can’t be charged. No, it only means that the prosecutor actually has to prove the driver was actually impaired. Still, there’s no doubt that the per se limit of 0.08 makes conviction of those not very close to that number nearly impossible as a practical matter. Considering that practical reality, the 5 ng/ml per se limit may just make it so that 9,000 Coloradoans walk. So is it really worth preserving the ability of the 754 to mount an affirmative defense? If you can show that even 10 of those 754 managed to get themselves acquitted I just might drop dead from shock. Hell, I’d be surprised if that number even exceeds zero.

      I also wonder, how hard is it to not smell like you’ve been smoking pot when you’re driving? Pot isn’t cheap and if you smell like you’ve been smoking pot, you’ve been burning your money for no benefit.

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