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Grand Junction Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Lawyers

In Colorado we’ve seen an explosion in the number of arrests for Driving Under The Influence of Marijuana or what is commonly referred to as DUID – Marijuana and its lesser included offense of Driving While Ability Impaired by Marijuana. With the passage of the Medical Marijuana laws and the heated debate about legalizing Marijuana in Colorado, law enforcement and lawmakers are pushing to establish a “per se” limit for THC blood content for drivers (sort of like the .08 limit for alcohol). The proponents for per se THC limits are pushing for a limit of 5 nanograms of active THC per milliliter of whole blood (ng/ml). On the blood test results we see from the three main laboratories here in Colorado, this level is referred to as “∆9-THC.” The 5 nanogram standard is largely based on a 2005 study from a team of international scientists led by Germany's Dr. Franjo Grotenherman.

DUID prosecutions typically focus on the level of active THC in the blood, a figure that varies widely based on the potency of the pot, the frequency of use, and the manner in which it was taken into the body. In smoking, the active THC level generally spikes at 50-plus nanograms immediately after inhalation, then dissipates rapidly, usually disappearing within one to four hours for occasional users. The difference for heavy users, or patients who medicate almost continuously around the clock, is that they already have background levels of active THC leftover from their last use. Critics of the per se THC level argue that high levels of active THC may remain in the blood long after use, perhaps up to 24 hours, whereas driving impairment that would negatively affect driving occurs closer to the time the THC was consumed. Proponents of per se THC levels argue a blood alcohol content of .08 percent corresponds approximately to a THC concentration in whole blood of 4-5 nanograms per milliliter. However not all experts agree - some experts argue that the per se limit should be as high as 15 ng/ml.

A comparison of blood alcohol levels and blood THC levels is not comparing apples to apples. Where blood alcohol content can be somewhat accurately measured and correlated with driving impairment, it is much more difficult with cannabis. This is due in part to the fact that alcohol is water soluble whereas cannabis is stored in the fat and metabolized differently, making a direct correlation with driving behavior difficult to measure. Although the 5 nanagram per se limit has yet to be implemented into law in Colorado, the police and prosecutors are already arguing that 5 nanograms of active THC is the per se level and will try to bring in their state “expert” to testify that 5 nanograms means you are unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. Inexperienced and uneducated prosecutors sometimes don’t understand the difference between active and inactive THC levels in the blood. At Peters & Nolan we believe that if the scientific community lacks consensus on the per se levels of THC that all DUID-Marijuana cases can be defendable.

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Peters & Nolan, LLC is your ideal source for high quality legal representation throughout the state of Colorado. Known for being personable and responsive, attorneys Andrew J. Peters and Andrew Nolan are aggressive trial lawyers with an excellent record of trying and settling cases in criminal defense, DUI/DWAI and personal injury.

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