Driving under the influence, new legal limits of marijuana levels.

Posted on: June 17th, 2013  |  No Comments

With the recreational use of marijuana now legal in Colorado, officers who patrol the state’s roads face a new set of challenges. Though smoking or possessing small amounts of cannabis is no longer breaking the law, anyone who drives while impaired is still subject to arrest.

Colorado lawmakers passed legislation that set legal limits on marijuana levels in the bloodstream. Under the new law, which took effect on May 28, a driver is assumed to be impaired if a blood test shows a level of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, that is five or more nanograms per milliliter. A nanogram is a billionth of a gram. Washington State, where recreational marijuana is also legal, has established the same THC limit as Colorado.

Some states, like Arizona, have enacted zero-tolerance laws that make driving with any trace of marijuana in the blood unlawful. A handful of other states have set their own thresholds for THC in the bloodstream.

“We have this notion that since we have a magic number for alcohol, that we are going to have a similar number for marijuana,” Paul Armentano, deputy director of Norml, which advocates for the legalization of marijuana. “The problem is that marijuana is not metabolized and absorbed by the body in the same way alcohol is.”

via The New York Times, Dan Frosch

A version of this article appeared in print on Sunday, June 9, 2013, on page 12 of The New York Times with the headline: In Colorado, Redefining ‘Under the Influence’ by Dan Frosch.

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