A proposed Colorado bill would allow cops determine who’s driving high

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A proposed Colorado bill would allow cops determine who’s driving high

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

A somewhat controversial new bill in Colorado would let cops to determine who is driving while high based on their observations, as opposed to demanding a blood test.

Colorado law currently states that anyone with 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or more in their system is likely intoxicated. But, regular cannabis users, especially medical patients, often have that much THC in their blood when they’re completely sober. There’s clearly an issue with the current law, but not everyone is happy with this new proposal.

“The current law is not ideal in regards to the limit used, 5 nanograms, to make this inference, but it is preferable to blanket police discretion,” Art Way, director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s Colorado office, told Cannabis News Box. Way said that the current law allows someone’s level of intoxication to be debated in court, based partially on their blood test.

In order to determine if someone is too high to drive, Colorado officers can be trained as drug recognition experts (DREs), which allows them to make an educated argument in court that someone was intoxicated. However, Way said this new proposal might make it easier for an officer who hasn’t received that training to convict a suspected high driver.

“Officers trained as drug recognition experts (DRE’s) already perform this service,” Way said. “What the new bill appears to try and do is make it easier for these officers and others not trained as DRE’s to obtain subsequent convictions in court. I believe DRE’s currently obtain convictions at a rate near and over 90% of the time.”

Unfortunately, there aren’t any tests that can conclusively determine if someone is driving with too much THC in their system. Way said this makes things difficult, but he doesn’t believe the correct solution is to let officers make those determinations alone, as bias can play a large role in that decision.

“I don’t think there’s a silver bullet to determine impairment,” Way said. “What I do know is allowing officers full discretion often leads to bias and prejudice. Our police officers and prosecutors already have too much discretion and not enough accountability.”

Colorado and many other states are having a hard time with this issue. No one wants people who are driving extremely impaired to be allowed to drive however they want, but you also don’t want to punish drivers who are driving safely just because they sometimes use cannabis. It may be a while before a solution to this problem is found.