Recreational Marijuana and Impaired Driving
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug.” However, in some states, it is no longer illicit. That is because a number of states have decriminalized the use and possession of marijuana. In the U.S., currently, twenty-five states as well as Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for medical uses. In addition, four of those twenty-five states and the nation’s capital have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Colorado passed Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution in 2012, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Retail stores were allowed to start selling the substance in January of 2014. There are still limits on who can buy or sell marijuana, however. You must be “21 and older to buy, possess, or use retail marijuana.” Like alcohol, “It is illegal to give or sell retail marijuana to minors.” Unlike alcohol, it is still against the law in Colorado “to consume marijuana in public.” Also unlike alcohol, a person can only possess a limited amount of marijuana at a time. The law states that “[a]dults 21 and older can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of retail marijuana at a time.” There are other restrictions in place as well, to learn more click here.
In addition, driving under the influence of marijuana is still against the law in Colorado. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.” So while legal, like alcohol and certain prescription medications, people should not consume the substance then get behind the wheel. Colorado has a “legal limit” for marijuana. Under state law, if a person has “5 nanograms or more” of THC “per milliliter in whole blood . . . while driving [that person] can be arrested for DUI.” See C.R.S. 42-4-1301 (2016).
The problem with marijuana, unlike alcohol, is that it is harder to measure the actual level of impairment based solely on the THC level in a driver’s blood. Different technologies are currently under development to assist law enforcement officers to determine a driver’s level of impairment. A marijuana breathalyzer that would operate similarly to the alcohol breathalyzer is being tested by a professor at Washington State University. Another detection method that is being tested by a Stanford professor is a device that would measure THC in saliva in what has been termed a “spit test.” Time will tell what method or methods become popular with law enforcement.
Drivers who choose to get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana can pose a serious threat to others on the road. If you or a loved one has been injured, or if your loved one has lost his or her life, because of a driver who was under the influence of marijuana, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Jeremy Rosenthal. Jeremy has been working for over a decade as a personal injury attorney in Colorado. He is dedicated to helping his clients recover just compensation from those who have injured them. Let his experience and knowledge work for you. Contact his office today for a free consultation.