Fight over marijuana DUID proposal resumes on two separate fronts

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DENVER — At the Capitol, lawmakers, lobbyists and staffers are now referring to legislation establishing a marijuana bloodstream limit for drivers “the zombie bill” — because it just won’t die.

After House Bill 1114, which set a five nanogram per se THC limit for drivers, passed the House only to be killed by the Senate, the provision was tacked on to House Bill 1317, an omnibus bill to establish a regulatory framework for the statewide legalization of marijuana.

Now as the Senate prepares to hear H.B. 1317, the House has introduced a brand new  bill, H.B. 1325 — it’s a carbon copy of the original bill, H.B. 1114 — to establish the same DUID standard.

So now there are two DUID proposals being debated simultaneously — with only six days now until the legislative session comes to an end.

Thursday afternoon, the House Judiciary Committee rubber-stamped H.B. 1325, the new bill, on an 11-0 vote.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee was hearing testimony on H.B. 1317, the omnibus marijuana legislation, that centered around — what else? — the DUID provision.

“It is part and parcel of a regulator scheme that take marijuana-impaired drivers to task,” said Attorney General John Suthers, who spoke generally for Colorado law enforcement, which has been upset about the bill itself.

Medical marijuana patients and industry advocates, as they have every time this proposal has come before lawmakers, argued that no single standard can be uniformly applied to all drivers with THC in their system and varying thresholds for how much actually impairs their motor skills.

Sen. Cheri Jahn, D-Wheat Ridge, the sponsor of the omnibus marijuana bill, H.B. 1317, opposes the DUID provision; and it’s been rumored that she or another senate Democrat who opposes it may seek to strip it from the legislation in committee or on the House floor.

That’s why the Reps. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs and Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, introduced the DUID proposal one more time Thursday, making sure the Senate knows that the House is serious about getting the new driving while stoned standard into statute one way or another.

The Senate Finance Committee Thursday had to lay over H.B. 1317 and its companion bill, H.B. 1318, which sets taxation rates on legal marijuana, until Friday, when public testimony will continue.

The bill may be debated on the Senate floor later Friday or possibly Saturday.

Majority Leader Morgan Carroll informed senators Thursday that they’ll be working Saturday in order to work through a still full calendar before next Wednesday, when the legislative session must end.

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