DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado lawmakers are again debating a proposal to establish an “impaired” limit for marijuana. If passed, the bill would make drivers impaired if they test positive for five nanograms or more of THC, an ingredient in marijuana.
The bill passed out of a Senate committee 4-1 on Monday after a seven-hour debate on the science behind the nanogram measurement. Supporters say using the nanogram measurement is like using blood alcohol content to measure impairment in drivers who have been drinking, but opponents say the facts aren’t there.
“A five-nanogram per se bill is unsupported by the science,” said Mike Elliott with the Medical Marijuana Industry Group. “A near consensus of research shows people can have five nanograms of THC in their blood but not be impaired.”
Opponents say the bill wrongly assumes marijuana affects every person the same way.
“What this bill would do is rig the system and create a ‘one size fits all’ standard that applies to every person,” said medical marijuana attorney Robert Cory. “But everybody is different in this world.”
But a forensic scientist who supports the bill, Sarah Ufer, says THC clearly causes impairment at that level.
“The research is there, this is scientifically supported,” Ufer said.
Law enforcement is also behind the idea of setting an impairment limit.
“We believe it gives law enforcement and prosecutors one more tool to do the job that needs to be done to keep our communities safe,” said Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson.
For others like Cordelia Cordova whose niece was killed in a car accident in 2010, the bill is very personal.
“This young man was under the influence of marijuana when he killed my niece,” was her message she delivered to lawmakers.
The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee.