A bill that would have set a limit on a driver’s allowable blood level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, was killed in the Senate during the special session. After the Senate voted down the bill on an informal vote, an effort to revive it failed on a 17-17 split. The missing vote was that of Sen. Nancy Spence, a Centennial Republican who was the deciding vote on a nearly identical bill in the legislature's regular session.
Earlier in the day, the Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee passed the bill 4-1 this afternoon. The bill received its final approval in the House yesterday morning. That meant the bill needed to pass only two votes — one yesterday and one today — by the full Senate to head to the governor's desk. Gov. John Hickenlooper has said he supports the bill.
The bill, HB12S-1005, would make it a crime to drive with more than a certain amount of THC — the psychoactive chemical in marijuana — in your blood. A nearly identical proposal appeared headed for passage during this year's regular legislative session. But it was sidetracked last week in the end-of-session fight over civil unions.
At the committee hearing, medical-marijuana activists successfully argued that the proposed limit — 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood — is too low and would result in near-certain convictions for sober drivers. Also, medical-marijuana patients have no way of determining what 5 nanograms in terms of consumption and time frame.
Supporters of the bill counter that the vast majority of people would be impaired at 5 nanograms and would need to wait only about two to three hours after using to fall below the limit. They argue that, even though some people could be sober at 5 nanograms, it is important to send a strong message and keep Colorado streets safe.