Smoking marijuana’s legal in Colorado, but not while driving

April 8, 2014

On January 1, 2014, Colorado legalized marijuana. While many have welcomed the move, others fear that DUI accidents will rise. What is the state doing to ensure that doesn’t happen?

For starters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has given a $400,000 grant to Colorado. The state’s law enforcement officials plan to use the money to beef up the existing police force by 35, from 185 personnel.

A part of the grant will also be used to spread awareness about the DUI law regarding marijuana consumption and driving. The TV campaign will be aimed at young men, between ages 18 and 24, who are most likely to consume the drug, according to Colorado Department of Transportation’s spokesperson Emily Wilfong.

How stringent are the DUI laws on marijuana? 

More than 5 nanograms of THC, the active component in marijuana, is likely to get you busted, according to NORML, a marijuana reform group. Colorado is the first state in the world to legalize marijuana, so it is in uncharted territory.


“The world’s first legal pot rules aren’t going to be perfect. They just have to be good enough. Good enough to keep the feds away, good enough to keep marijuana stakeholders happy, good enough to keep Coloradans from worrying they’ve made a horrible mistake, “ say Joel Warner (journalist) and Sam Kamin (law professor).

How dangerous are marijuana-fueled drivers?

Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since 2000. Activists have been opining that marijuana consumption affects different people in various ways, unlike alcohol. Having a standard cutoff for determining DUI in marijuana consumption is, therefore, unfair.

“I can pretty much assume that I will always be above five nanograms in my blood,” says Teri Robnett, “but I have no impairment.” She has to take marijuana for medical reasons.

Wilfong says that marijuana was an element in over 1,000 DUI cases in Colorado in 2012. With the consumption of marijuana likely to go up with it becoming legal, DUI cases involving marijuana will probably rise too.

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Category: Driving, Enforcement, Road safety

About the Author ()

A graduate in English Literature from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, India, Nupur also has an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University. Nupur is currently trying to be as savvy a cook as she is with a book. She likes watching plays and sunsets. Nupur first lived in Kolkata and then for a decade in Delhi, still her favorite city.

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