Marijuana is legal, but you can’t drive while under its influence

by | Feb 26, 2021 | Dui

Colorado radically shifted the national dialogue on marijuana when it became the first state to legalize the plant for adult recreational use. Years into legalization, Colorado has seen cultural and economic changes because of this ground-breaking policy.

Unfortunately, legalization has led some people to have inaccurate perspectives about the risk involved with marijuana use. For example, some people think that because marijuana is legal in the state, it is legal to drive after using marijuana. However, Colorado law is very clear that those with marijuana in their bloodstream can face arrest and prosecution for drugged driving offenses.

What is the standard for marijuana impairment in Colorado?

There are actually two standards that apply when officers accuse someone of driving under the influence of marijuana. The first is the officer’s description of the driver’s behavior, potentially corroborated by dashboard or body camera footage.

The second standard is chemical testing that shows how much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is in someone’s bloodstream. THC is one of the active compounds in marijuana, and it is the one responsible for cognitive impairment in users. If chemical testing detects 5 nanograms are more of THC in someone’s bloodstream, the state could charge them with drugged driving.

Still, a failed test result isn’t the same thing as a guaranteed conviction. Limitations on chemical testing for marijuana mean that medical marijuana patients and frequent recreational users could have high levels of THC in their blood without actually being impaired. That issue, as well as the newness of THC testing, could play a role in your defense strategy if you face drugged driving charges in Colorado.