House Bill 1114, which would require courts to instruct juries that they could infer that a driver was under the influence of marijuana if the driver’s blood contained more than 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, is one step closer to becoming law. The bill has now passed a House Committee and is scheduled for debate today before the full House of Representatives.
Similar bills that proposed a new DUI per se charge have failed three times in the past, eventually faltering in the Colorado Senate . This proposal appears to have more support this year, due to Colorado’s legalization of small amounts of recreational marijuana.
Opponents of the bill argue that frequent pot users, including persons using it only for medical purposes, often exceed 5 nanograms, even when sober.
Proponents of the bill counter that the new legislation creates only a “permissive inference” that the driver was under the influence, and that defendants could still try to persuade juries that they were sober, regardless of the THC level. However, the bottom line is that this would make convictions easier to obtain by effectively reducing the prosecution’s burden of proof, and frequent users of marijuana will probably suffer the consequences of increased exposure to prosecution any time they drive.