Last month, a bill intended to set the limit for marijuana-blood content was postponed by the Senate Judiciary Committee to give it more study. Last night the Senate deliberated on the bill again, and it died on a voice vote.
As it originally stood, House Bill 1261, perhaps more widely known as the "Pot DUI Bill," would have set the most tolerant THC limit in the country but medical marijuana advocates argued that it was still too strict. The bill would have set a THC threshold (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood but was amended back into deliberation in part because of a blood test submitted by William Breathes, the controversial medical marijuana critic for Westword.
In the blood test, Breathes reported that after a night of sleep and not smoking for 15 hours his THC levels nearly tripled the proposed standard. Occupational medicinal specialist Dr. Alan E. Shackleford reportedly evaluated Breathes and declared him "in no way incapacitated."
Senator Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, told the Denver Post:
"I don't feel that I have enough consistent scientific information to know that I'm picking the right number."
In a statement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers said:
It is dumbfounding that the Colorado Senate could fail to pass a per se marijuana bill. There are approximately 125,000 Coloradans authorized by state law to use medical marijuana plus countless others who use the drug without state authorization. As the chief law enforcement officer of the state and a former district attorney, I have seen the damage people driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol can inflict. The Senate's vote yesterday exhibited not only a lack of concern for the safety of Colorado drivers and pedestrians, but also an inability to lead.
The fact that some senators were succumbing to pressure from the marijuana industry while others may have been concerned the per-se limit was too high is no excuse for complete inaction on such a critical public safety issue. This is yet another public policy failure by the General Assembly to enact appropriate marijuana policies in Colorado.
Last night's Senate didn't recess until after midnight. Check out tweets from people who watched: