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Debate over driving legally after marijuana use continues

Now that Colorado voters have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in certain amounts and in certain contexts, safety advocates have voiced concern that individuals will endanger fellow motorists by driving high. Drugged driving and other marijuana-related charges can be serious if added to one's criminal record. Therefore it is important for motorists to know when they may and may not legally drive after choosing to use marijuana.

Recently, Colorado Sen. Steve King proposed that drivers only be held accountable for drugged driving if they have exceeded a five ng/ml limit for THC. However, this proposal is not being supported by everyone. While all motorists and marijuana users would benefit from a clear threshold standard related to marijuana use and vehicle operation, not everyone believes that five ng/ml is the ideal limit for motorists.

Interestingly, some individuals opposed to this permissible level proposal are concerned that too few individuals would be convicted under that standard. Pre-legalization, over 70 percent of drivers accused of drugged driving post-marijuana use had blood levels below five ng/ml limit for THC.

Though some individuals are concerned that the proposed limit is not strict enough, others are worried that it is too strict. These individuals cite studies indicating that operating a vehicle post-marijuana use is not as inherently dangerous as some would lead the public to believe.

Whatever the standard ends up being, Colorado residents who choose to use marijuana should be able to clearly understand at what level they may legally use and drive. Failure to give drivers a clear standard will lead to inconsistent criminal citations and inconsistent punishments.

Source: Denver Post, "Should Colorado adopt a permissible limit for THC? No," Ed Wood, Jan. 13, 2013

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