We submitted the following letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland today, copying the White House.
This was part of a nationwide effort on the part of many activists encouraging the Federal Government to take action against the out-of-control commercialization of marijuana in Colorado and elsewhere. Our letter was specifically tailored to deal with drugged driving
As a representative of victims of drugged driving, I respectfully request that you impose a moratorium on opening of any more marijuana shops until the following can be achieved:
- Repeal all 5 ng/mL THC drugged driving laws, replacing them with anti-drugged driving laws that work, and
- Remove from commercial distribution all genetically enhanced and chemically modified cannabis products designed to increase psychoactive effects (e.g., high THC strains and concentrates).
My son was killed by drug-impaired drivers (two at the wheel of one vehicle) and we learned that laws designed to provide justice to drunk driving victims don’t work well for victims of drugged driving.
Unlike alcohol’s .08 gm/dL per se laws, the 5 ng/mL per se or permissible inference laws for marijuana’s delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are not based on science. Unlike with alcohol, there is no correlation between blood THC levels and the levels of impairment. One can be as impaired at 1 ng/mL as at 10 ng/mL.
States’ THC 5 ng/mL per se or permissible inference laws ensure that many THC-impaired drivers will not be convicted of their crime. To the extent that they leave victims in their wake, those victims will not see justice.
Second grader Peyton Knowlton is one such victim. She was killed in Colorado by Kyle Couch who was high on a marijuana edible (Boulder 2016 CR 001454). A drug recognition expert determined that Couch was incapable of safe driving due to THC consumption. The concentration of THC in blood does not achieve high levels when the drug is consumed as an edible, rarely reaching 5 ng/mL. Couch had 1.5 ng/mL of THC in his blood, well below the state’s 5 ng/mL permissible inference level. He was sentenced to 60 days for careless driving resulting in death and an additional 90 days for purchasing his marijuana with a forged document.
Colorado uniquely has two impaired driving misdemeanors: DWAI is defined as impairment to the slightest degree while DUI is defined as incapable of safe driving. The 5 ng/mL THC “legal limit” applies only to DUI. Conviction data from 2018 (the latest year for which we have data) revealed that the 5 ng/mL permissible inference law prevented DUI convictions of nearly all defendants under 5 ng/mL even though the vast majority of drivers under 5 ng/mL were impaired:
|Charge category||# charged||# convicted||Conviction rate|
|DUI – 5.0 ng+||252||177||70%|
|DUI – 1.0-4.9 ng||156||14||9%|
|DWAI – 5.0 ng+||467||464||99%|
|DWAI – 1.0-4.9 ng||76||71||93%|
Adjudicated cases where THC was the only intoxicant found. No polydrug cases.
Only the highest charge/conviction is shown. There are no case duplications.
Convictions include guilty, deferred, and deferred/dismissed.
Appropriate drugged driving laws include zero tolerance, permissible inference with any level above zero, and impairment-based assessments.
The marijuana lobby successfully sold the “regulate marijuana like alcohol” model to a gullible public. But marijuana is unlike alcohol chemically, biologically, and metabolically, making the alcohol model irrational.
The marijuana lobby successfully sold the idea that marijuana is safe because users cannot overdose from it like they can from heroin. Nor should they. Marijuana does not arrest respiration. It kills by brain damage, causing impaired performance, psychosis, schizophrenia and suicide.
The marijuana lobby successfully sold the idea that marijuana is medicine. It is not a medicine, although medicines of some value can be extracted from the plant.
By inaction, politicians continue to cede their credibility and authority to counter the misleading claims of the marijuana lobby, to the benefit of Big Marijuana and to the detriment of the public. That needs to change. If you are not going to enforce Federal laws, at least impose a moratorium on new marijuana shops until current problems created by the commercialization of marijuana can be solved.
 Wood E, DuPont R. Cannabis-Impaired Driving: The Evidence and the Role of Toxicology Testing, chapter in Cannabinoids in Medicine. Springer 2020
 CO, WA, MT, IL
 Vandry R, Herrmann ES, Mitchell JM. Pharmacokinetic profile of oral cannabis in humans: blood and oral fluid disposition and relation to pharmacodynamic outcomes. J Anal Tox 2017 41 83-99
 Rosenthal A, Reed J. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol. Colorado Department of Criminal Justice, Nov 2020