One issue that should be of concern to everyone is the issue of driving while on cannabis. The reason we should all be concerned is that for law enforcement, determining if a driver is drugged is much more difficult than determining if a driver is drinking. While smoking cannabis does cause the scent to cling to you, and certainly your vehicle, places like Colorado where edibles are now a legal option can make it a bit more difficult to charge drivers as a current DWI or Driving while drugged. Let’s take a look at how Colorado is handling it.
Colorado DUI for Cannabis
In Colorado, a person is guilty of a DUI if they operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs. As well as if he or she operates a motor vehicle as an habitual user of any controlled substance. Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1301(1)(a)-(c) (West 2010).
The law states that in instances where THC is identified in a driver’s blood in quantities of 5ng/ml or higher, “such fact gives rise to permissible inference that the defendant was under the influence.”
Currently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying the effects of cannabis on drivers. Those results are expected late this year. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that the blood test used for assessing a DUI penalty is entirely unreliable. Also, even scientists aren’t sure if the measurement of 5 nanograms is accurate. They have cited the fact that a medical user is likely to always have some level of THC in their blood so that an on-the-spot assessment could show a medical patient with that amount currently in their blood, even if they haven’t partaken in hours.
What this Means for Cannabis and Driving in Colorado
Whether you are a resident of Colorado or just passing through to enjoy their newest industry, you will want to be very careful. There are a few things to keep in mind to maintain your safety and freedom.
Don’t try edibles and drive – While even the heaviest smoker or cannabis fan may typically handles their intake well, edibles can be a bit deceptive. A small candy bar may have more effect than you planned for and if that shows in your delayed driving skills, you’re probably going to be pulled over. Be responsible for yourself and others by asking a sober friend to drive.
Be discreet – Even though cannabis is now legal in Colorado, you certainly shouldn’t be overly bold or flagrant in your usage. Even the most progressive officers in Colorado are still going to force interaction with you if you toss down several edibles or smoke down publicly right before jumping in your car.
Take precautions – If you know you are a heavy smoker or use edibles which are currently unregulated for potency, just avoid driving. This isn’t a matter of how capable you are and how you can handle your weed, this is a matter of even a completely sober heavy smoker will likely meet and/or exceed that 5 nanogram requirement and end up falling into the same legal pit that has continued to fuel the war on drugs for years.
Also remember that the legalization of marijuana in Colorado for recreational purposes is also being viewed as one gigantic social experiment. So please be responsible, every chance you get.
Do you have any more tips or advice for those enjoying the new cannabis industry in Colorado?