Colorado House Bill 11-1261, the THC/DUI bill, has been revived, with only 3 days left in Colorado's 2011 Legislative session. This is sad news for medical marijuana patients, who will become targets for increased THC/DUI arrests and prosecution and suspension of their drivers licenses.
HB1261 had been amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 18 to create a task force to study whether there was scientific evidence that THC causes impairment. However, on Friday (5/6) the Senate Appropriations Committee removed the study language from the bill, reverting to the
version of HB1261 that passed the House on March 23.
The bill now needs only to be voted on by the full Senate twice (Second and Third Readings) to pass. The 2011 Colorado Legislative Session ends at midnight on May 11. All bills will be decided one way or another by this time.
Senator Morgan Carroll (D-Aurora), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee who sponsored the study language, confirmed to CTI by email that the original bill was back in play. Senator Morgan Carroll wrote: "It is
true. They pulled out the amendment we put on in judiciary, it is back to the original bill, and it appears we do not have the votes (in the Senate) to kill it."
HB1261 seeks to ban patients from driving privileges by setting a limit on THC in the blood that most patients will always exceed. Any driver with an amount of THC over 5 nanograms/milliliter in their blood will be considered impaired and guilty of DUI per se and subject to loss of their driver's license and other criminal penalties. This will greatly impact patients, because many of them will test over that limit due to their chronic use, but not be impaired.
For example, Westword reporter and marijuana patient William Breathes had his blood drawn to prove that a patient would be above the 5ng/mL limit even when sober. His THC blood content, after 16 hours of fasting, was 13.5 nanograms, well over the 5ng limit. Yet he was completely unimpaired.
*Business Owners and Caregivers Unite to Defeat HB1261*
The Cannabis Therapy Institute is calling for a phone and email campaign to the General Assembly, lead by every MMC applicant and caregiver in the state, on behalf of their patients. Since this bill is a direct attack on
the MMC customer base, CTI hopes that MMC business owners who have stayed out of cannabis politics for the whole year, will use the last three days of the session to mount a last-ditch campaign to defeat this bill. Please copy firstname.lastname@example.org on any emails you or your patients send, so that you can get full credit for participating in the campaign to kill HB1261. Patients support businesses that support patients!
Email the General Assembly and ask the to VOTE NO on HB1261 or amend it to the Senate Judiciary Committee version, which asked for a study to prove there was scientific evidence that THC causes impairment.
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- HB1261 is unfair to medical marijuana patients and will force patients back on prescription medications that do not have nanogram levels and are not routinely tested for by the police.
- HB1261 will require a "forced blood draw", forcing anyone suspected of driving under the influence of THC to submit to a blood draw forced by the state. Currently, alcohol levels can be tested through urine, breath or
blood. But under the THC/DUI bill, the nanogram count can only come from a forced blood draw.
- The sponsor of HB1261, Rep. Claire Levy (D-Boulder) admits that she cannot point to one single accident caused solely by marijuana and that the research on setting a nanogram limit as evidence of impairment is "all over the place."
WATCH LIVE ONLINE
HB1261 is scheduled for a debate on the floor of the Senate on May 10, starting sometime after 9am. You can watch live video:
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LEGISLATIVE WRAP-UP MEETING
Wed., May 11, 2011
Casselman's Bar and Venue
2620 Walnut Street, Denver, CO 80205
Legalize 2012 Monthly Networking Meeting
Medical Marijuana Legal Panel
7:00pm to 9:00pm: Legislative Wrapup: The legislative session ends on May 11. Find out what the new laws mean for you. Get the opinions of Colorado's top attorneys, including Danyel Joffe, Craig Small, Ann Toney, Leonard Frieling and Rob Corry! Free and open to the public.