Monday April 18, was a trying battle with the Senate Judiciary committee over HB 1261. This legislation targets and threatens patients with a choice between a blood test or losing one’s license for a year. The idea of legislators is that cannabis inebriation and impairment can be determined conclusively at a level of 5 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood. The problem is that THC leeches from the fat cells of patients and can be detected above these levels even when the patient hasn’t used cannabis in many hours. The 5 ng/ml level cannot be correlated to impairment when physiologies, metabolisms, and dosages vary patient to patient.
Case in point, journalist William Breathes (strain critic for Westword) submitted his blood test registering 14 nanograms despite not using cannabis for 16 hours and being declared sober by a medical physician. This proof made claims by the State toxicologists seem arbitrary and downright incorrect. Private companies who test for the State were claiming that cannabis use is 4 times more dangerous when driving. How fair is it to have a private company with financial interest in blood testing testify on behalf of the State with these claims? In fact, the FDA recommends patients using Marinol should drive once acclimated to the effects of THC.
From WebMD about Marinol and Driving:
“Do not engage in activities requiring alertness and clear thinking, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this medication affects you and until you are sure you can perform such activities safely.”
Fortunately, the State noticed these inconsistencies and lack of solid science. Colorado cannabis patients won a victory Monday when the committee voted 6 -3 to defer the bill for additional study before setting an arbitrary limit for patients. Here’s a copy of the letter I wrote to senators regarding this issue and details the summary I testified to on behalf of Colorado Springs patients at the Capitol.
After it was all over, Senator Jeanne Nicholson had this to say about the letter and hearing:
“I listened carefully to all of the evidence and testimony presented at the committee hearing, and in the end decided that more research was needed in order for me to responsibly pass this legislation. The Judiciary committee decided to form an exploratory committee to research this issue further. This bill will still have to move through the senate and be referred back to the house so this legislation may continue to be amended and changed. I thank you for all of the information you provided me with and for your participation.”
Letters and phone calls work and patients need to take the time to write their leaders as these issues arise. Stay tuned to the blog and copy these emails for standard contact next time a legislator threatens your rights as a patient, caregiver, and business owner.
United we stand, divided we fall.
House Judiciary Committee:
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Senate Judiciary Committee:
‘email@example.com’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’ ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’
‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’; ‘email@example.com’; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’;
As always, feel free to BCC me on any letters you send to our leaders, or email me if you have any questions: email@example.com
As of May 9, the Senate voted to kill this bill in its entirety and Colorado became the first State to reject a proposed THC limit without study and science to back up the claims.
Although this is a great victory for patients, the medical cannabis community should still treat driving with responsibility and avoid driving if impaired.
Friends don’t let friends drive medicated.