Kill the high driving bill

Mar 222011

The State House’s fight to quantify illegal stoned driving shows the House has its heart in the right place, just not its brain.

On Tuesday the House passed House Bill 1261, which would limit the amount of THC Colorado drivers can have in their bloodstream. Drivers with more than 5 nanograms per millimeter of the psychoactive component of marijuana in their blood would be considered too high to drive and could be arrested in the same way a person with a blood-alcohol content of more than .08 can be arrested for DUI.

According to the Denver Post, the bill has the support of law enforcement officials who say the bill specifically clarifies existing laws that make high driving illegal. But it’s not without problems.

Despite what some potheads will tell you, driving high isn’t safe. Although studies on high driving can be foggy, many studies show that the effects of moderate to high doses of THC impair functions like reaction time that are critical to safe driving. It’s probably best, then, that anyone blazed out of their skull not cruise around town.

For this reason, the intent of the law is actually a positive. Instead of the current zero-tolerance law, the new law would allow medical marijuana patients to drive as long as they weren’t too quantifiably impaired. But that’s where the trouble starts.

Proponents of the law say research shows 5 nanograms is an appropriate impairment threshold, but it doesn’t take into account the tolerances of frequent users, nor does it consider the unpredictable fluctuations in bloodstream THC levels not inherent to blood-alcohol levels.

Colorado needs to thoughtfully define its stoned driving laws in a way that protects everyone. This bill isn’t it.

 Posted by at 2:40 pm

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