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How High is Too High for Driving?
Posted by CN Staff on December 07, 2010 at 19:37:35 PT
Editorial
Source: Denver Post 
Colorado -- Even for those who believe marijuana has useful medical applications, we hope there is no debate about driving while stoned. But where do you draw the line? Colorado lawmakers next month should take up a plan to set safe limits of marijuana use for drivers.Certainly drivers can't be under the influence, but is it OK to have some pot in your system, just as the law allows drivers to have some alcohol in their system so long as it doesn't surpass certain levels?
We think some sort of demarcation is smart and necessary in a state that allows tens of thousands of its residents to legally use marijuana as therapy. Right now, current state law amounts to a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to pot's psychoactive component in the bloodstream.The General Assembly's criminal and juvenile justice commission is recommending that Colorado law allow for traces of THC  the psychoactive component of marijuana  in the blood. As with alcohol, the law would delineate when too much of the substance is present to allow for safe driving."It will bring some clarity to the issue of whether you are or are not impaired under the influence of marijuana," state Rep. Claire Levy, D-Boulder, told The Denver Post's John Ingold.The commission's recommendation would allow a driver to have up to 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, but even some members of the commission question that limit. Frequent smokers  like the medical marijuana users the law is poised to protect  have higher tolerances to the drug, making the 5 nanogram-limit potentially too restrictive.We admit that we aren't pot scientists, so we don't know what to make of the proposal. But Ingold cites accident figures that underscore our concern that some limit be set.In 2009, THC or other forms of marijuana were found in drivers killed in one in five accidents that involved drugs nationally, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. In Colorado, THC or other forms of marijuana showed up in the bloodstreams of 26 of 312 drivers killed that year.As has often been the case since the advent of Colorado's medical marijuana laws, lawmakers must break relatively new ground. Beyond states with zero-tolerance policies, only a few, including Pennsylvania, use the 5 nanogram limit.Sean McAllister, an attorney involved in the commission's work, questions the 5 nanogram limit. But he also recommends that medical marijuana users not use the drug for four hours prior to driving.As with some prescription medications, medical marijuana is just too potent for safe driving."No responsible advocate of legalization believes that people should be driving high," McAllister said.We hope the commission's recommendations find their way into a smart piece of legislation next session that not only addresses the rights of medical marijuana patients but the overall safety of motorists.Source: Denver Post (CO)Published: December 7, 2010Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post CorpWebsite: http://www.denverpost.com/Contact: openforum denverpost.comURL: http://drugsense.org/url/zI7qpganCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml 
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Comment #1 posted by juztbudz on December 07, 2010 at 23:36:58 PT:
Needs more study...
What they really need to do for this situation is find out how many of those drug related accidents involved absolutely no other drug indications. I'm sure that they will find that very few of that one in five has only cannabis in their systems. Unfortunately, they don't discern this matter far enough in their studies.
As a medical cannabis patient I worry that those of us that use regularly may always have over the limit amounts in our systems. Many users have higher tolerances than I, so this could be problematic. Studies have repeatedly shown that those of us who drive with cannabis in our systems are in fact safer drivers than most...another myth being perpetuated by our government...
Brighton Area Compassion Club
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