Rep. Polis: Bill Would Allow Colorado to Set Stoned Driving Limits, Fund Prevention Programs

March 12, 2014
By
Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Jared Polis

WASHINGTON – Rep. Jared Polis helped convince Coloradans to regulate marijuana like alcohol, now the Boulder Democrat wants to convince Capitol Hill lawmakers to fund marijuana like alcohol too.

Polis has authored legislation to expand the federal definition of driving while impaired to include what is called “stoned driving.” The bill would allow states such as Colorado and Washington that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana to receive federal dollars to reduce the incidence of driving while impaired.

“As more and more states follow the will of their citizens and implement regulations to treat marijuana like alcohol, it is vital that we keep our roads safe and save lives by updating our driving under the influence laws,” Polis said in a statement.

“The LUCID Act creates a single federal standard that will protect the public from impaired drivers and train law enforcement officials to effectively identify offenders,” Polis said.

Annmarie Jensen, a lobbyist with the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police, said her organization endorses the legislation.  “We believe the bill supports efforts to reduce incidences of impaired driving,” she said in an email.

Polis was a vocal supporter of Amendment 64, the 2012 initiative that legalized the recreational use of pot in Colorado, and has been a staunch defender of it in Congress.

The subtitle of the initiative included the phrase “Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.” Although the State of Colorado abides by that standard, federal law does not. Using, possessing, and selling marijuana remains illegal under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Polis’s bill would amend a section of the Federal Highway Authorization Act that pertains to drunk drivers.  In contrast to federal law, which has a uniform standard of 0.08 blood-alcohol content to define driving while intoxicated, the proposed legislation would let states where marijuana is legal determine the standard of driving under the influence of marijuana.

The Obama administration has allowed the state of Colorado to skirt the Nixon-era Controlled Substances Act by not enforcing the federal ban on the recreational use of pot.

Colorado’s legalization of marijuana added $2 million to state coffers in January, according to state revenue officials. But the effect of the law on federal funding has not been a frequent topic of discussion among lawmakers.

A Polis spokesman would not comment on the amount of federal funding Colorado might receive if the legislation became law.

The Transportation Department secretary has the authority under the Federal Highway Authorization Act to withhold ten percent of Colorado’s federal funds through a 2005 transit-and-surface transportation law if the state does not enforce violations of the Controlled Substances Act.

“I would hope (the Obama administration) would be consistent with what it’s done with the rest of policy on marijuana,” Polis spokesman Scott Overland said in an interview, referring to the Justice Department’s recent ruling on regulating pot businesses like more traditional businesses.

Comments made by visitors are not representative of The Colorado Observer staff.

4 Responses to Rep. Polis: Bill Would Allow Colorado to Set Stoned Driving Limits, Fund Prevention Programs

  1. joel wey
    March 12, 2014 at 11:07 am

    “Polis’s bill would amend a section of the Federal Highway Authorization Act that pertains to drunk drivers. In contrast to federal law, which has a uniform standard of 0.08 blood-alcohol content to define driving while intoxicated, the proposed legislation would let states where marijuana is legal determine the standard of driving under the influence of marijuana.”
    It will be interesting to see what the state/fed comes up with to test for being high…….funny how the law was passed to allow recreational mj,but nothing was thought out about how to control the abuse,or test for it while driving/operating a vehicle. But,wow,look at all that money we can get for the state! And pour it down the black hole of “blank”(fill in your favorite state/fed funded program).
    Sticker shock on how the feds can look the other way in some states,but enforce in others……

  2. Robert Chase
    March 12, 2014 at 11:40 am

    The science that has been done so far indicates that cannabis is not a threat to the driving public; states that instituted medical cannabis laws have seen their traffic fatality rate drop 9% — due to drivers’ substitution of cannabis for alcohol, according to “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption” (a recent study out of UC). The most authoritative meta-analysis of studies of driving and THC to date(search for “Grotenhermen Developing limits for driving under cannabis”) admits that there is no scientific basis for asserting a standard for impairment (such as Colorado’s General Assembly did last year after five previous failures). To propose a national standard for driving impairment when the scientists who study the issue say that there isn’t one, at a time when research shows that cannabis is causing the number of traffic deaths to drop is insane public policy. Polis’ initiative is utterly wrongheaded and pandering; he has aligned himself with the prohibitionist parasites in law enforcement who are determined to open a new front in the War on Americans (Drugs) by directing the government’s highwaymen to use methods little more scientific than delving into the entrails of a chicken to foretell the future (I refer to the so-called “Drug Recognition Expert” scam) as a pretense to then demand drivers’ blood, and to deprive them of their freedom, their freedom of movement, and their possessions.

    Polis is a member of the Collaborationist (Democratic) Party; together with the Fascists (Republicans), these two traitorous political organizations have turned the supposed “land of the free” into the world’s leading jailer. Polis’ proposal demonstrates the essential identity of the fascist political organizations who now openly dare to claim that they may contravene the Bill of Rights by seizing Americans private data without warrant, and to use it secretly against us.

    So far from having legalized cannabis, Colorado made marijuana like murder: in reaction against the vote of the People declaring that cannabis “should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol” in November of 2012, Gov. Hack and the General Assembly actually increased the severity of offenses involving cannabis — the worst offense under the Liquor Code is a misdemeanor, but as of last July, the worst offense involving cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act is now a Class 1 felony, like premeditated murder. Outside of the overtaxed dispensary system, concentrated along the Front Range, Colorado’s Establishment has every intention of continuing to make felons of its People for cannabis. Pritchard Garrett shot his wife and himself to death just six months ago; he faced life in CSP on cannabis charges filed after passage of Amendment 64. Any representation that “Colorado legalized marijuana” is ignorant, disingenuous, or both, and the media have trumpeted this lie around the globe.

    Ending the Prohibition of cannabis is the least of what we would need to do to begin to restore American Freedom. We must repeal the Federal Controlled Substances Act, abolish the Drug Enforcement Agency, and treat substance abuse as the medical problem it is. Polis would only further institutionalize and codify the Establishment’s implacable, unreasoning prejudice against cannabis; his program promises to expand the government’s predation against the People. Stop the setting of an unscientific, false standard for impairment with THC. Annihilate American Fascism now!

  3. Homegrown care
    March 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Just in case legislation re-criminalizes marijuana. The Federal government should not get involved in the slippery slope of stoned driving. The Colorado marijuana DUI in A64 was one reason executive potheads voted no.

    Mr. Polis the article (below)has many studies confirming that a THC DUI is not needed. Legalized Marijuana is about lowering convictions. This would jail people because there is NO valid TEST confirming last use. You can’t prove it, it has to make a blood draw mandatory and people are burdened with legal fees and fairy tale rehab.

    http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-confusing-science-of-stoned-driving

  4. March 16, 2014 at 11:05 am

    allow police show us they will slow DUI before they tie up the court system with Ann unknown

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