Is the Legal Limit for Marijuana in the Blood Too High?

By October 21, 2016Thomas Law Firm


The legal limit for THC (the active chemical in marijuana that makes you high) in the blood in Colorado is five nanograms per milliliter of blood. But some believe that this limit is too high and allows drugged drivers to avoid punishment. Others say the limit is too low and results in more drivers who are not actually impaired facing charges. Who is right?

The Science of THC and Drugged Driving

An article recently published in the Journal of Global Drug Policy and Practice states that DUI per se laws have made the roads safer by making it easier for drunk drivers to be discovered and prosecuted. The article advocates creating similar per se laws relating to marijuana, but points out that it is much more difficult to discern impairment for marijuana because the level of THC in the blood does not correlate easily with impairment.

The solution, according to the article, is tandem per se laws that make drugged driving a crime when the driver is obviously impaired AND has any level of a drug in their body. In other words, not only must the driver shows physical signs of impairment, but if that driver has ANY level of THC in the body, they can be charged.

We think this is the wrong assumption to make. The bottom line is that we really don’t know much about how THC affects a person’s ability to drive. We agree that five nanograms is an arbitrary limit, with little scientific evidence backing it. But there are other considerations to make. In Colorado, marijuana is legal, and marijuana likes to bury itself in fat cells for a long time. This means that you could eat a marijuana cookie and get pulled over three days later, feeling totally fine, and test positive for THC. Should you be punished for that? No, we don’t think you should.

Zero tolerance is not the answer with marijuana. Yes, drugged driving should be prevented, but a zero tolerance policy stands to hurt lots of innocent drivers who are not impaired, despite having THC in their systems.

Our Denver drugged driving attorneys know how to develop a strong defense to help you fight charges of driving under the influence of marijuana in Colorado.

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