For the third time, Colorado lawmakers voted against a proposed bill that would set DUI limits of 5 nanograms THC/milliliter of blood for marijuana smokers.
The bill passed through the House this morning, but the Senate caused the bill to fail on a tie vote of 17-17 this afternoon. In order to advance, the bill would have needed one more vote of support.
One Senator, Nancy Spence (Republican), had voted against a marijuana DUI bill last year, but changed her stance this year and voted in approval of a marijuana DUI bill earlier this year. However, due to a last minute standoff regarding other issues, that bill did not clear the House. It came back today in a special legislative session, but Spence was out of town and was unable to vote. Though it is not 100% certain that she would have voted in favor of the bill, her absence potentially led to its defeat.
Currently, police officers are required to make observations in order to gauge whether an individual is driving under the influence of drugs. Some lawmakers think that adding a THC blood limit to DUI regulations would help keep citizens safe and drugged drivers off the streets.
However, other lawmakers and marijuana supporters believe that a THC limit is not an accurate way to determine whether someone is too impaired to drive. Medical marijuana supporters are worried that a THC limit will constantly put patients at risk of receiving a DUI, due to the fact most patients medicate consistently throughout the day.
In responded to that sentiment, Republican Senator Steve King said, “Impaired is impaired, whether you have a (medical marijuana) card or don’t have a card.”
Other lawmakers, mostly Republican, opposed the bill because they wanted other types of drugs, not just marijuana, to be targeted.
After the amendment failed, the entire bill fell apart and was ultimately rejected.
A similar marijuana DUI limitation will be considered later this year in Washington state. Initiative I-502, which would legalize recreational marijuana but also put a DUI blood THC limit on the drug, will appear on the general election ballot in November.
Many states are considering adding blood-limit drugged driving limits at the behest of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. In addition, it is the Office’s hope that drugged driving charges will go down 10% by adding such limits.