Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Attorney General decries Colorado Senate’s lack of leadership as it fails to pass a widely supported THC driving limit

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers decried the Colorado Senate’s inability to pass House Bill 1261, a widely supported proposal to set a per se limit for THC blood levels akin to Colorado’s 0.08 BAC limit for alcohol. The proposal, which died late Monday night on a voice vote, initially had been recommended by the bipartisan Colorado Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, which has acted as a clearing house for criminal justice reform. The legislation also had broad support from law enforcement groups.

The limit that would have been set by House Bill 1261, five nanograms or more THC per milliliter of blood would have been the highest threshold among states that have set a per-se limit for marijuana use.

“It is dumbfounding that the Colorado Senate could fail to pass a per se marijuana bill,” Suthers said. “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.”

Suthers said he hopes lawmakers will again take up this issue in next year’s legislative session.