By Bob Cox
December 13, 2014
Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.
I openly admit some bias in the words that follow. I spent a significant part of my adult life fighting the “war on drugs.” While I have a problem with calling the law enforcement activities a war, I cannot help but think that we did a lot of good things while trying to discourage the use of controlled substances. I also think the “war” concept is a failure, largely because there are too many people and entities trying to do their own thing and we have a judiciary that has tended to lean in the wrong direction.
I have always had a problem with the way the DUI laws in Colorado were manipulated by organizations like MADD. In many instances grant money channeled through these organizations resulted in policies within various law enforcement agencies that I think tarnished their images and, in many cases made things worse instead of better.
The type of influence forced into law by MADD and other organizations is now being used in an exact opposite way with the new liberalization of marijuana laws. We watched as successful intervention of law enforcement into the DUI problem only resulted in more strict laws. “We are making fewer arrests, therefore we must need to lower the limits. A drunk driver twenty years ago had to have a breath-alcohol content of .10. Now it is half that amount.
Conversely, the state passes the recreational marijuana law and actually uses a higher threshold than most other states without the legal possession laws require. The Colorado law prohibiting driving under the influence of marijuana provides that, if the driver’s blood contains 5 nanograms of delta THC per milliliter of blood, the driver is presumed to be driving under the influence. That is more than practically every other state allows, except Washington, which also has a new possession law, and Montana, which recently raised their limit. So, if a driver in Nevada has 2 ng/ml, he goes directly to jail for driving under the influence. In Colorado he only half high – go figure.
My point in all this is that these new marijuana laws in Colorado are going to cause us some big and embarrassing problems. Once again this last week, Colorado hit the national headlines because a suspected stoned driver plowed into two Colorado State Patrol vehicles. Luckily, nobody was injured, but we have to ask ourselves, “Would Keith Kilbey (the 23-year-old driver) have been wasted in the first place if it were not for the relaxed possession and use law?”
And, I also find it somewhat interesting that one of Colorado’s largest newspapers saw it fit to report the incident in their on-line version and on the same page provide a link to “See a map of Colorado’s recreational marijuana shops.” Given the fact that just two weeks prior to this incident, there was another very similar one, maybe the website should consider a link to a map showing where driving while stoned accidents occur within the state.
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© Robert R. Cox 2014