Cannabis Therapy Institute Launches THC/DUI Education Campaign



driving under the influence of medical marijuana

CTI is launching a THC/DUI awareness campaign based on fact, not fear. The campaign is inpired by the FDA warning for Marinol (synthetic THC). The CTI THC/DUI awareness campaign can be summed up with these phrases, "Use cannabis responsibly. If you medicate, then wait." The length of time a patient will have to wait after they medicate depends on many factors. But once a patient gets used to the effects of THC, they are likely to be able to drive safely.

This campaign, and the rationale behind it, are summarized in the letter
below written by CTI to the Drug Policy Task Force regarding THC/DUI.

CTI needs your support to help promote this campaign. The Medical Marijuana
Industry Group, the lobbying group that supported restrictive regulations
(HB 10-1284 and HB11-1043) on the patients and industry, is supporting the
CDOT campaign, which says "If you medicate, don't drive." We believe the
CDOT/MMIG campaign is too simplistic and provides no real education. Many
feel that CDOT/MMIG campaign is belittling to patients who have driven
safely while using cannabis for years. The CDOT/MMIG campaign also falls
far short of providing the education needed so that medical cannabis
patients can use cannabis responsibly while remaining safe from the law.

Become part of the "Use Cannabis Responsibly" campaign and help CTI educate
medical cannabis patients about the true effects of cannabis on driving and
current legal issues surrounding THC and DUI. Please donate or become a
sponsor to support this campaign to bring truth and education to the
THC/DUI debate:

If you are a graphic artist and would like to help create the promotional
materials for this campaign, please send an email to

If you have any ideas or input on the campaign, please also send us an
email: The entire cannabis community has
the responsibility to educate patients on how to use cannabis responsibly
while remaining safe from the law.
The Drug Policy Task Force meets again on October 12, 2011 to discuss
recommendations for a THC DUI-bill. You can send them your comments now.
Their emails are at the end of this email.

Regardless of what the DPTF decides, the THC/DUI bill can be introduced by
any representative or senator next year.

You can read DPTF member Senator Pat Steadman's comments in this Westword
article: "THC driving limit: Task Force member says no recommendation
wouldn't stop new bill"

Now is the time to start writing letters and arranging meetings with your
state legislators.

Please bcc: on any correspondence with
the DPTF or your state legislators.
For more information, see:


September 7, 2011

Dear Drug Policy Task Force Members:

The Cannabis Therapy Institute is a patient advocacy and education
organization, representing thousands of patients in Colorado who are too
sick to participate in the political process. This letter is in regards to
your possible recommendation of THC/DUI nanogram per se limits for Colorado
legal medical cannabis patients and others who drive.

As you can see from the Marijuana DUID (Per Se) Workgroup summary report,
the members of this panel were not able to reach a consensus on whether
impairment could be accurately correlated with a specific THC/DUI per se
limit. The research shows that different people react differently to THC,
and that legal medical cannabis patients and others will often have
nanogram levels far above 5ng, and still be perfectly safe to drive.

A THC/DUI nanogram per se limit would unfairly target innocent cannabis
patients for arrest and prosecution. Because most patients use cannabis
continuously to control their conditions, they do not have the option to
take their medicine later. They need to take it on schedule, just like any
other medicine. Because of this continuous use, patients will often have
more than 5ng of THC in their blood and still 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 his physician certified that
Breathes he was completely unimpaired and safe to drive.

First, it is necessary to clearly define the problem that the committee is
trying to solve with the THC/DUI recommendations. CDOT statistics show that
there has been no increase in accidents or fatalities related to THC in
Colorado and that driving fatalities have decreased every year since 2007.
See "Colorado Drugged Driving Fact Sheet"

CDOT statistics show that DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) evaluators declared
that 16% of the fatalities involved illegal drugs of some sort. CDOT also
claims that 58% of those DRE evaluations "came up with a result of
marijuana as a drug involved."

However, in an Aug. 8, 2011 email to CTI, CDOT spokesperson Heather Halpape
admitted that the 16% statistic does also include people whom DRE
evaluators determined were under the influence of alcohol or other illegal
drugs, in addition to the THC. So this statistic is also misleading because
there is no way to determine whether THC was the only substance involved or
whether THC actually caused the accident.

Given the fact that there is no empirical data to show that there is a
THC/DUI driving "problem" in Colorado, it may very well be that there is no
problem at all.

Before the DPTF recommends a solution, the committee must clearly define
the problem and the metric by which "success" of the solution will be

Of course, the Cannabis Therapy Institute does not support or promote
driving while impaired on any substance. We believe an educational campaign
based on the real effects of cannabis would be of best benefit to all
Colorado citizens at this point, until the research proves there is a clear
problem and that the THC/DUI per se limit is the only solution to the

CTI has started a THC/DUI educational campaign based on facts about
cannabis effects on driving and the realities of Colorado's marijuana laws,
stressing the importance of personal responsibility and knowledge of how
cannabis affects you.

The CTI THC/DUI educational campaign is based on the FDA's warning on
Marinol (a synthetic form of THC prescribed in pill form). The caution
statement on Marinol reads:
"Patients receiving treatment with Marinol capsules should be specifically
warned not to drive, operate machinery, or engage in any hazardous activity
until it is established that they are able to tolerate the drug and to
perform such tasks safely."

The federal government believes patients using THC-therapy are safe to
drive, as long as they are cautious about how the medicine may affect them.
Why then would Colorado adopt a standard that anyone with THC in their
bloodstream was impaired? Instead of an outright prohibition on driving,
the FDA gives rational, adult advice to patients to wait and see how
cannabis affects them before they drive. The FDA recognizes that most
patients will be able to drive safely after ingesting cannabis and expects
patients to exercise personal responsibility and common sense to determine
their own impairment.

The CTI THC/DUI awareness campaign can be summed up with these phrases,
"Use cannabis responsibly. If you medicate, then wait." The length of time
a patient will have to wait after they medicate depends on many factors.
But once a patient get used to the effects of THC, they are likely to be
able to drive safely.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced its new Drugged
Driving Campaign on Aug. 14. While it is commendable for CDOT to try to
educate patients about cannabis use and driving, CTI believes the campaign
is designed to frighten and demonize patients while falling far short of
providing any meaningful education about the effects of cannabis.

The message behind the CDOT Drugged Driving Campaign is that the legal
consequences of driving under the influence of cannabis are the same as the
legal consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol. This is true
and useful information for patients. However, the usefulness of the
campaign seems to stop there.

The CDOT message is that it's "not safe to medicate and drive." Clearly,
thousands of patients in Colorado know that this is not true and have been
driving safely for years. Many patients feel targeted and disrespected
because of discriminatory campaigns like this.

Most cannabis experts agree that THC, as only one of the active ingredients
in cannabis, can cause side effects that may affect driving in some people,
including drowsiness, decreased reaction time, and distraction. However,
the truth is that these side effects are minor, and most patients can
compensate for them and drive safely.

The most important educational information for cannabis consumers is what
the side effects of cannabis are, the time of onset of these side effects,
and how long they might last.

Some examples of cannabis onset and duration charts can be found in the
Erowid Vaults under Cannabis Effects:

The Erowid charts show that the onset of the effects of smoked cannabis
usually occur within 10 minutes of smoking, peak in 15 to 30 minutes, and
have a total duration of 1 to 4 hours.

For consumed cannabis (edibles), the onset of effects can take up to 2
hours, peak in 2 to 5 hours, and have a total duration of 4 to 10 hours.

The Erowid page also contains a very important statement:
"Caution: Reactions and experiences may vary dramatically from person to

So, once again, the FDA advice is the most appropriate: Wait until you see
how it affects you and you are certain you can drive safely.

The scientific evidence linking a specific THC per se limit to impairment
in all people does not exist. The evidence gathered by the Marijuana DUID
Workgroup confirms this, as does all the evidence given in the testimony on
HB 11-1261 in the state legislature. A THC per se limit discriminates
against legal medical cannabis patients who will quite often be above a 5
ng limit in their blood because of their chronic use, but not be impaired
at all.

1) Define the problem clearly and the metric by which the success of the
solution will be measured.
2) Do not institute a DUI per se limit that will cause innocent patients to
be prosecuted.
3) Recommend funding for an educational campaign based on facts, not fear,
to show patients how to recognize the effects of cannabis, how long
cannabis may take to produce the effects, and how long those effects might
4) The medical cannabis industry should not adopt the blanket advice to
their patients to never medicate and drive. Rather, medical cannabis
patients should be specifically cautioned not to drive, operate machinery,
or engage in any hazardous activity until it is established that they are
able to tolerate the drug and to perform such tasks safely.

The advice to patients should be to "Use Cannabis Responsibly: If you
medicate, then wait." Since all patients are different, and the methods of
ingestion have various onset times, the amount of time a patient will have
to wait will vary and will be determined by the patient responsibly.

Educational campaigns based on fact will be more helpful to our Colorado
citizens than a blanket attempt to prosecute anyone with THC in their
blood, regardless of real impairment.

By definition, in Colorado, medical cannabis patients have debilitating
medical conditions and are very sick with chronic or terminal illnesses.
Colorado citizens enacted our medical marijuana law out of compassion for
patients and wanted to allow patients to use cannabis safely without fear
of discrimination. A THC/DUI per se limit would unfairly target a large
group of Colorado citizens based only on the fact that they chose marijuana
over other prescription drugs, which have no per se limit. Please recognize
the compassionate need for medical marijuana patients to be free from
discrimination and allow them to use their medicine of choice in a safe and
responsible manner. Let's treat Colorado cannabis patients like responsible
adults and not assume that they cannot drive safely just because of a
random number with no scientific or rational basis.

Thank you for your sincere attention to this matter. Please let me know if
you have any questions.


Laura Kriho, Director
Cannabis Therapy Institute
P.O. Box 19084, Boulder, CO 80308
Phone: 877-420-4205

TO: Colorado Drug Policy Task Force
Sub-Committee Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice

Chair/ Law Enforcement / CCJJ
Grayson Robinson, Sheriff, Arapahoe County

Juvenile Justice / CCJJ
Regina Huerter, Executive Director, Denver Crime Prevention & Control

Law Enforcement/CCJJ
Bill Kilpatrick, Chief, Golden Police Department

Mental Health Treatment Providers / CCJJ
Reo Leslie, Colorado School for Family Therapy

Prosecution / CCJJ
Donald Quick, District Attorney, 17th Judicial District

Legislative, CO House / CCJJ
Mark Waller, Representative, 15th District

Legislative, CO Senate
Evie Hudak, Senator, 19th District

Legislative, CO Senate
Pat Steadman, Senator, 31st District

Department of Corrections
Tim Hand, Director, Parole Division

Judicial Branch
Shane Bahr, Coordinator, State Problem Solving Courts

State Board of Parole
John O?Dell, Parole Board Member

Substance Abuse Treatment Providers
Carmelita Muniz, Colorado Association of Alcohol and Drug Service Providers

Behavioral Health Treatment Providers
George DelGrosso, Colorado Behavioral Healthcare Council

Behavioral Health
Christine Flavia, Division of Behavioral Health

Dolores Poeppel, Victim Assistance Program, CO State Patrol

Community at Large
Christie Donner, Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition

Tom Raynes, CO District Attorney?s Council

Greg Long, Chief Deputy DA, 2nd JD

Dan Rubenstein, Chief Deputy DA, 21st JD

Mark Hulbert, DA, 5th JD

Law Enforcement
Rod Walker, Deputy Chief of Police, Colorado Springs PD

Colorado Criminal Defense Bar
Maureen Cain, Defense Attorney

Sean McAllister, Defense Attorney

Public Defenders
Brian Connors, Colorado Public Defenders Office

Public Defenders
Kathleen McGuire,Colorado Public Defenders Office

Staff: Christine Adams ( or 303-239-4496)

Provided as a Public Service by the:
Cannabis Therapy Institute
P.O. Box 19084, Boulder, CO 80308
Phone: 877-420-4205