Recreational Use of Marijuana Legal in Colorado Dec. 10

Recreational use of marijuana became legal in Colorado after Governor John Hickenlooper signed the Executive Order to make the “official declaration of the vote” in relation to the famous Amendment 64, which passed by a 55.33% majority on Nov. 4 of this year.

The declaration signed by the Governor officially formalizes A64 as part of the Colorado Constitution and now makes personal use legal. An adult over the age of 21 may also possess marijuana and is also entitled to limited home-growing.

Governor Hickenlooper created a task force to help residents understand the policy, legal and procedural issues that need to be addressed and resolved within A64.

The legal issues that may need to be ironed out include DUI Marijuana. Under Colorado law, any detectable amount of THC could lead to a DUI charge. How Colorado’s marijuana DUI law will reflect their new stance on possession remains to be worked out by lawmakers.

Washington DUI and Marijuana Laws

On Nov. 6, when the legalization of marijuana was voted on in Washington, there were many assumptions and hanging questions about what the new law actually meant. One man was arrested shortly after the law was passed for smoking marijuana in a public park. He thought he was safely doing so because marijuana had just been legalized, but technically that would not go into effect for two months, and new laws did not allow public consumption, either. The new law does not officially take effect until Dec. 6, but already 220 possession cases have been retroactively dismissed.

A guide for the public on what legal use now means in Washington has been published. Jonah Spangenthal-Lee is a former journalist who was hired by the police department earlier this year, and along with police spokesman Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, the two have produced good advice for the public on how they can better understand I-502.

Here are a few snippets from the pamphlet:

Q:What happens if I get pulled over and an officer thinks I’ve been smoking pot? A: If an officer believes you’re driving under the influence of anything, they will conduct a field sobriety test and may consult with a drug recognition expert. If officers establish probable cause, they will bring you to a precinct and ask your permission to draw your blood for testing. If officers have reason to believe you’re under the influence of something, they can get a warrant for a blood draw from a judge. If you’re in a serious accident, then a blood draw will be mandatory.

Q:What happens if I get pulled over and I’m sober, but an officer or his K9 buddy smells the ounce of Super Skunk I’ve got in my trunk? A: Under state law, officers have to develop probable cause to search a closed trunk or locked container. Each case stands on its own, but the smell of pot alone will not be reason to search a vehicle.

The article Marijwhatnow? A Guide to Legal Marijuana Use In Seattle is just one attempt to inform the public of what they can expect from the passage of 1-502. Washingtonians are now faced with learning the new marijuana DUI law that came with I502, which sets 5 nanograms as the standard for what is too much THC in the system for driving.

Washington Initiative 502 Will Set Standard for Marijuana DUI

Washington’s Initiative 502 would allow possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults over age 21. The initiative would also allow 16 ounces of solid marijuana infused products or 72 ounces of liquid marijuana, as long as they are purchased in a state-licensed store. It would still be illegal to possess non-medical marijuana that is grown or purchased outside of the state. A provision on Initiative 502 allows for prosecution of drivers who have more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of active THC metabolites in their system. Current law uses the same criminal statute for Marijuana DUI, drug DUI, and alcohol DUI.

Critics of the DUI provision warn marijuana users of how easy it could be to get charged with Marijuana DUI, which would carry significant and serious criminal charges. Washington’s current DUI law is based on implied consent and per se DUI provisions. This means that if you drive on Washington roads, you have already given consent to have your blood or breath tested if you are arrested for DUI, if the officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are impaired.

I-502 will add a per se threshold for THC whereas before there was none. The law will distinguish between THC and THC-COOH. THC-COOH is the inactive marijuana metabolite known as carboxy-THC which can be used under current law to convict drivers of DUI. The initiative would only consider THC concentration in DUI cases.