AG Blasts Lawmakers Over Failed Marijuana Driving Bill
Bill Passed House But Stalled In Senate
KRDO NewsChannel 13
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers sharply criticized the state Senate Tuesday for failing to pass House Bill 1261, which would have established a blood marijuana limit for drivers, similar to the existing blood alcohol limit.
In a statement, Suthers said, “It is dumbfounding. There are approximately 125,000 Coloradans (using) medical marijuana, plus countless others who use the drug without state authorization. The Senate’s vote exhibited not only a lack of concern for the safety of Colorado drivers and pedestrians, but also an inability to lead.”
Suthers also accused some senators of bowing to pressure from the medical marijuana industry.
The bill would have set the level of THC, the drug’s active ingredient, at five nanograms per milliliter of blood. That would have made Colorado’s level the highest in the nation. Without a new law, the current law remains in effect. Drivers can be arrested and charged with DUI if they commit a traffic violation with any amount of THC in their blood.
Suthers’ criticism was shared by El Paso County District Attorney Dan May, who said DUI cases are increasing, and it’s harder for prosecutors to obtain convictions without a new limit.
“This is a critical need in our community,” said May. “It’s impacting our public safety.”
El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa said he understands the difficulty senators faced in considering the bill and that more scientific evidence is needed to determine the best THC limit.
“They’re going to struggle with it,” he said. “You have to identify a standardized method of testing. There’s big questions. Do you go off a preliminary test or a screening test? It will cost more to train deputies to spot marijuana intoxication. In the big picture, it’s going to hit the taxpayers.”
Colorado Springs police said it will focus on enforcing the existing law, instead of debating the proposed law.
“What we have right now allows us to take impaired drivers off the roads,” said Sgt. Steve Noblitt. “Whether or not it’s enough or goes far enough, that’s an argument beyond me.”