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Legal Marijuana In Colorado Sparks Possible THC Limit For Drivers

A committee of the lower house of the Colorado legislature just unanimously passed a proposed new state law to set a legal blood level limit for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Lawmakers believed that consideration of the measure was necessary to prevent impaired driving by motorists smoking marijuana, now that the state has legalized the recreational use of the drug.

The legislature has considered similar legislation three times before, but has previously rejected such proposals. Some critics of the idea contend that blood tests do not really accurately measure whether the use of marijuana has rendered someone too impaired to be able to safely drive. To become a law, the proposal would have to be passed by the entire House of Representatives, as well as by the state Senate, and then signed by the governor.

The proposal establishes the threshold for a presumption of legal impairment for motorists when a blood test reveal over 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Those critical of the law call it unnecessary since existing law already prohibits driving while impaired by any drug or substance. They also worry that patients allowed to use marijuana for medical purposes under state law may be unfairly targeted and prosecuted under the measure.

They also say that weed stays in the body for a few days and some people may be recorded as having more THC than allowed in their blood stream even a day or more after they have smoked marijuana and are no longer affected, in case they didn't get weed out of their system properly. A county sheriff did testify in favor of the legislation before the committee, stating his belief that it was in fact needed.

The legalization of marijuana for recreational use came about as the result of a ballot initiative in the November election. The state had already previously authorized the legal use of the drug with a prescription for medical purposes.