Colorado House Passes Marijuana DUI Bill

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The Colorado House of Representatives voted on Friday to approve a bill that establishes limits for people driving under the influence of marijuana. It was the third consecutive year that the bill's co-sponsor, House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, has put forth such a bill in a state that that approved medicinal marijuana years ago and, last November, also approved marijuana for recreational use. Here are the details.

* "This measure will make our roads safer," Waller stated of the bill's passage. "Giving law enforcement the tools they need to help ensure people are making responsible decisions behind the wheel is an absolute priority."

* The Colorado House GOP stated that House Bill 1114 works similar to blood alcohol limits for drunk drivers, setting a limit of five or more nanograms of delta-9-THC present in a milliliter of whole blood for a driver to be considered under the influence of marijuana.

* However, according to the bill, a driver who reaches the five-nanogram limit can argue in court that he or she is unimpaired because of tolerance, size or other contributing factors, the House GOP stated. This "permissive interference" addresses a concern of medical marijuana users who are chronically above five nanograms but function as if sober.

* In 2011 alone, the House GOP reported earlier this week, 13 percent of deadly crashes in Colorado involved marijuana, and the number of marijuana users in the state is expected to increase after voters legalized the recreational use of cannabis last November.

* Co-sponsoring the bill this year is state Rep. Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora.

* "This is about traffic safety in the state of Colorado," Fields was quoted as saying in a report by the Denver Post. "This bill will send a very strong message that no longer can you get behind the wheel after smoking marijuana."

* This is the first time that a marijuana DUI bill has allowed the permissive interference for medical marijuana patients, the Denver Post reported. Previous versions of the bill made the amount a "per se" limit, meaning that testing above that amount would almost always result in a conviction.

* Testing on drivers will require a blood draw, the Denver Post reported, and police would need to have probable cause to stop drivers and request the test. Refusing the blood test could cause drivers to lose their licenses.

* The bill will now go to the state Senate for consideration.

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