Skip to comments.Too Stoned to Drive?
Posted on 10/20/2013 8:06:13 AM PDT by Second Amendment First
In May, anticipating an increase in marijuana consumption now that the plant is legal for general use in Colorado, the state legislature officially defined "too stoned to drive." The new law allows juries to convict someone of driving under the influence of a drug (DUID) based on nothing more than a test indicating a THC level of at least five nanograms per milliliter of blood.
Addy Norton is a walking (and driving) refutation of that standard. Norton, a 27-year-old who smokes medical marijuana every day, recently participated in an experiment conducted by KIRO, the CBS station in Seattle, where a five-nanogram rule also prevails as a result of I-502, Washington's marijuana legalization initiative. Norton arrived with a THC level of 16 nanograms, more than three times Colorado's new DUID cutoff, but nevertheless completed a driving course satisfactorily, according to the instructor who accompanied her with his foot hovering over a second brake and his hand ready to take the wheel.
After Norton smoked three-tenths of a gram, she tested at 36.7 nanograms, more than seven times the legal limit, but still drove OK. Even after she consumed nine-tenths of a gram, a drug recognition expert from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office said her driving was merely "borderline." Only after consuming a total of 1.4 grams of pot and achieving a THC level of 58.8 nanograms, almost 12 times the legal limit, was Norton clearly too stoned to drive.
The two other participants in KIRO's study, a weekend smoker and an occasional smoker, also drove competently at THC levels far above five nanograms. So did "Justin," a medical marijuana user who volunteered for a study sponsored by KDVR, the Fox affiliate in Denver. Justin's THC level was already 21 nanograms when he arrived, even though he had not consumed any marijuana that day, and it rose to 47 after he smoked some pot. He performed fine on a driving simulator at both levels. "Justin is doing pretty well," a drug recognition expert from the Thornton, Colorado, police department said as he watched the second test. "He's being a safe driver. It's doubtful that I would have pulled him over. He hasn't shown any degree of impairment."
While some people may be noticeably impaired at five nanograms, it is clear that some people are not. The way people react to marijuana is partly a function of pre-existing characteristics, but it also depends on experience. Regular users develop tolerance and learn to adapt to marijuana's effects, so they may be able to drive safely at THC levels that would incapacitate novices.
Because THC is absorbed by fatty tissue, it can linger in the blood of regular users long after the drug's effects have worn off, meaning that daily smokers may never fall below the five-nanogram threshold. "Patients like me," Teri Robnett of the Cannabis Patient Action Network told Colorado legislators in April, "will continually maintain a blood level far above five nanograms and without any impairment." A five-nanogram standard exposes people like Robnett to the risk of being treated as a public menace whenever they get behind the wheel.
Recognizing that a five-nanogram THC level is not a good indicator of impairment, the Colorado General Assembly rejected that standard five times before finally approving it in May, the same week it passed a law regulating pot stores. "It's an arbitrary limit by uninformed people," complains Kayvan Khalatbari, co-owner of a medical marijuana center in Denver. "They just don't know what they're talking about."
The inclusion of a five-nanogram standard in I-502, the Washington initiative, was so controversial that it turned some legalization advocates against the measure. Alison Holcomb, who oversaw the I-502 campaign, points out that police still need "reasonable suspicion" that a driver is impaired to pull him over and seek a blood test. Holcomb says pro-legalization critics of I-502 were never able to cite cases where drivers who tested above five nanograms were acquitted under the old legal standard, which as in Colorado required evidence of impairment, including but not limited to blood tests. She also argues that a five-nanogram standard could help defendants with lower levels who otherwise might have been convicted. She says jurors "might be skeptical that the person was actually impaired if the results were not at that threshold level."
In a concession to critics of the five-nanogram cutoff, Colorado's new law, unlike Washington's, does not make people automatically guilty of DUID if they test above that level. Instead it creates a presumption that defendants can try to rebut by presenting evidence that they were not in fact impaired. But Denver attorney Rob Corry, who frequently represents DUID defendants, thinks that opportunity will not make much difference in practice. With a "permissible inference" of DUID at five nanograms, he says, "A person coming into court is guilty until proven innocent. If you put a number on it, juries are going to latch onto that five-nanogram number, whether it's a permissible inference or a per se [standard], and the effect will be that innocent people are convicted."
What’s the difference between a drunk driver and a stoned driver?
The drunk driver will blow right past a stop sign.
The stoned driver will wait for it to turn green.
Anybody who didn’t see this coming is an idiot.
Hey...I resemble that remark...about 35 years ago...
I’ve always felt that decriminalization was the wiser route.
With legalization come new laws and taxes.
And lobbyists of all stripes.
My now passed uncle always claimed the most dangerous animal on the planet was a 16-24 year old female with a driver's license.
And a cell phone I would now add.
After many years riding a motorcycle, little blonde girls in little red cars can still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I’m curious. What conditions warrant medical marijuana use at age 27? How does one get medical marijuana “status”?
“How does one get medical marijuana status?”
Pay a doctor $100 and claim some unexplained pain that is helped by staying stoned all the time. 99.9% of all the medical marijuana cards are issued to stoners with no medical problems at all.
Well, article is poppycock because it all has to do with the strain of Marijuana.
All Marijuana highs are not the same. There is stuff that one big hit will velcro you to the couch. Then there is stuff you smoke and end up vacuuming your entire house 6 times.
Stoned people don’t carry guns. A stoned person would laugh at you before pulling a gun — even while you are beating on them.
Stoned people and 80 year old’s drive the same. 35 mph everywhere, unless its a 25 mph zone, in which case they go 15. They hug the right shoulder and don’t realize they’re left turn signal has been on for the past 80 miles. They fall asleep at red lights and have difficulty parallel parking, diagonal parking, vertical parking and horizontal parking.
And if you see smoke coming from under their care it’s because they left the parking break on.
My now passed uncle always claimed the most dangerous animal on the planet was a 16-24 year old female with a driver’s license.
My Father, God keep him, used to tell me that the most dangerous person behind the wheel was an old man in a hat. Then he proved by becoming that old man.
AIDS (HIV) & AIDS Wasting
Asthma / Breathing Disorders
Crohn’s / Gastrointestinal Disorders
Epilepsy / Seizures
Multiple Sclerosis / Muscle Spasms
Nausea / Chemotherapy
Pain / Analgesia
Basically get a prescription from a doctor.
My oldest sister has suffered with severe asthma since childhood. Our family doctor gave her marijuana as a child, which my father rolled into cigarettes for her. This was in the mid-forties. My sister remembered it when, as a teacher, the police burned some weed so they would recognize the odor.
Beagle, do you have a source for your 99.9%?
After many years riding a motorcycle, little blonde girls in little red cars can still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I had to read that twice!
The cop will pull the guy on LSD over. The guy will ask, “How fast was I going officer?” The cop will say, “ 6 miles an hour. Get out of the car.”
“Beagle, do you have a source for your 99.9%?”
No, It’s just my personal observation. I’ve yet to see anyone that had a real medical condition with one of the stoner cards. Most are 18-35 and healthy as a horse.
Also curious as to what you do that brings you into contact with so many medical marijuana users that give you enough of those people to calculate so a high percentage.
I could easily respond with a comment about "making things stand up" however common decency and decorum requires silence of me.
They have the medical dope stores all over. It’s pretty easy to see who is going in and out.
How could anyone be so unkind
To arrest a man for drivin’ while blind?
I appreciate that. I'd stay and entertain the possibilities, but I've just discovered a cracked oil cooler on the tractor that's probably going to screw up the rest of my afternoon.
Norton arrived with a THC level of 16 nanograms, more than three times Colorado’s new DUID cutoff, but nevertheless completed a driving course satisfactorily
So what is the point?
I know plenty of alcoholics that can drive a car satisfactorily when well over the State Legal limit. Does that mean we allow everyone to drive drunk?
Here are some stats that I could find. You will see that the vast majority of the cards are issued for pain which really has no way of being proven or disproved.
‘Hey Doc, I have pain and staying fried really helps.’ ‘Here’s your card son, that will be $100 at the counter.’
How do they test this?
Anyone know of VC opportunities for MJ testing?
Your page says you are from Michigan, so how do you see them going in & out of the “dope stores” in Colorado?
The point is that these legal limits for various intoxicants are arbitrary and depend on factors other than ability to safely operate a vehicle. They are determined by legislators who are lobbied and funded by special interest groups with various agendas.
Should drunk driving be encouraged? Of course not! But what is drunk? Are you drunk if you are one point over the legal limit but are fully in control of yourself and your vehicle? If the limit is lowered, one day you can be sober and the next declared drunk.
Follow the money. If reckless driving were fined as heavily as DUI there would be a lot less of it. Why do you think they want to lower the limit to .06 from .08?
The vast majority, 94%, is severe pain, not just pain. Also, average age is 41, not the 18-35 you stated.
My dad is there too. He hasn’t lost any response time with his opinions of others driving abilities though.
having no personal experience having smoked marijuana only twice, once for 11 years and once for 14, i can only agree on your merit
I have no personnel experience either. Mine was all group experience.
Kind of like being gay. When you go get your 'gay' card, how do you prove your gay?
Anyway ... are you saying it doesn't work for pain or are you saying the majority of those prescribed MMJ for pain is fake pain? And the Colorado statistics presented that %94 are for sever e pain, %14 for Muscle Spasms. So, that's %108 .... the overage is noted as "overlap". And I think there are valid self-diagnosed mental conditions that are suited for MMJ. Like Anxiety, OCD, many phobia's, and of course you're just tired of today's news and wish to entertain yourself with Ideas for that best selling novel, or Screenplay ... only to not be able to remember the truly most awesome and earth shattering plot lines and characters you've developed.
Easy fix that takes away any ambiguity or issues with tolerance. Want a medical marijuana card? Turn in your DL. No getting it back til you’ve got at least 6 months of weekly tests coming back squeaky clean.
Yes, I realize it stays in the body for up to three months. Yes, this is intentionally as punitive as possible. So, how bad do you REALLY want that joint, hmm?
Fine with me. I quit driving right after 9-11.
As soon as Pink Floyd lyrics start making sense to me, I know it’s time to pull over and let somebody else drive.
What a tangled web we weave when we decide to decide “how much is too much” when it comes to driving.
Here’s an idea.
If you want to drink, then drink.
If you want to smoke, then smoke.
If you want to drive, then do neither.
Practical to enforce? Very much so.
Practical to follow? Very much so.
And in the end - the fairest to the largest number of people.
My sister-in-law, from my first marriage, thought that men should give her the right of way because she was female. I was riding with her when she almost killed us all because she pulled out when the other guy had the right of way. She was so pissed that he didn't "behave like a gentleman" and let her go first, she ranted for about an hour and nothing any of us(me, my then wife, my brother-in-law(her brother))could say would convince her she was wrong.
BTW, if you are wondering, my wife died after 21 years of marriage, just saying that to avoid the a**hat remarks that I have gotten before when commenting on being married twice.
They have them all over Mi too.
Mi has been doper card state for quite a few years, since 2006 I think.
They have been shutting down the dope stores locally for selling dope to anyone that comes in without even checking cards.
This guy had his store shut down and was selling dope out of his house.
In the general area around a small town of less than 30,000 there was 18 of the ‘medical’ dope stores. It was obvious to anyone who was going in and out of the stores, and the vast majority are young and healthy.
That explains it then. Thanks. I wasn’t aware that Michigan also had medicinal marijuana outlets. I looked and see that there are now 20 states + DC. Michigan joined that list in 2008.