The High Life: What is a Pot DUI?

By Scott O’Sullivan, The O’Sullivan Law Firm

Colorado continues to blaze a trail for other states when it comes to legalized marijuana. Let’s face it: we’ve had our ups and downs since the vote in November 2012 when our state passed Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana. From “cannabis tourism” to neighborhood spats to a huge spike in child overdoses, we are figuring out a lot of things as we go… for better or worse.

I’ve seen quite a lot of misinformation on the internet about what it means to be impaired by marijuana or driving under the influence of marijuana. Like alcohol, I believe that there should be a very low threshold for people driving under the influence because the repercussions can be so tragic. However, marijuana is a tricky thing to measure since it stays in your system so much longer than alcohol. A recent Colorado Public Radio story addressed the complexities:

“Colorado’s marijuana DUI law is modeled on the one for alcohol, which sets a number to determine when someone is too intoxicated to drive. For pot, that number is five nanograms per milliliter of blood. Anything above that and the law says you shouldn’t be driving.

That’s a problem according to Tom Marcotte who runs The Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at the University of California, San Diego.

“Unlike alcohol, which has a generally linear relationship between the amount of alcohol you consume, your breath alcohol content and driving performance, the THC route of metabolism is very different.”

That means blood and breath tests are not a good measure of marijuana intoxication. AAA released a study this spring backing that up, even saying states should wait to set marijuana impairment limits until the science improves.”

So, people in Colorado are getting arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana when they may not even be high. How can a regular pot user protect him or herself from this fate? To read the full story, check out the January issue of InkSpired Magazine.

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