Should New Laws Limit Driving While Stoned?

01/28/2013

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The standards for driving while under the influence of alcohol are .08 in most states and the penalty for DUI is no small deal. It’s not a law you want to break both for those you may endanger in the process and for yourself. But the laws for driving while under the influence of marijuana are not so clear. 

More pressure has been put on law makers to take action with regards to driving while stoned in Colorado, especially after new laws legalized recreational pot smoking in the state. In Colorado in 2011, 13 percent of deadly crashes involved marijuana and as the number of pot smokers increases, law makers fear that this number may increase as well, according to CBSDenver.  

A new law introduced by Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, would make 5 nanograms of THC in the system the legal limit. But it’s not so easy both to catch those over the limit or to prove that they are actually breaking the law. Unlike alcohol there is no breath test, and therefore, officers will need to have probable cause in order to arrest people. Blood tests are the only means of checking levels.

According to CBSDenver, "Waller, a former prosecutor, admits the burden of proof will be higher for police and prosecutors. They can’t just point to the test as proof of impairment, but will need evidence like dangerous driving or slurred speech."

In November, Amendment 64 passed, legalizing recreational smoking for Colorado adults. This is the first state in the U.S. to pass such a bill. 

According to Huffington Post:

A64 will allow adults 21 and older to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana from specialty marijuana dispensaries and grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. Possession is limited to up to an ounce for personal use, but selling marijuana without a license, purchasing marijuana from a party who is not licensed as well as public use of marijuana will remain illegal.

It's a new era for the state and I'm sure many more controversies regarding enforcement will begin to surface. 

 

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Sara Novak writes about health and wellness for Discovery Health. Her work is also regularly featured in Breathe Magazine and on SereneKitchen.com. She has written extensively on food policy, food politics, and food safety.


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