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Pot Critic Tests 3 Times Over Proposed Limit — While Sober


By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town

?There’s a big problem with tests which measure THC levels in the blood. That being, those tests measure THC levels just fine, but they don’t do shit when it comes to measuring actual impairment — which is why those tests are a piss-poor way to enforce a law against driving while impaired on cannabis.

That simple fact has been highlighted by the spectacular failure of Denver Westword pot critic William Breathes to pass Colorado’s blood test for THC-impaired driving. Breathes not only flunked the test, but he tested nearly three times over the proposed limit of five nanograms per milliliter of blood —while sober.

As Breathes pointed out today, that means that he — and thousands of other medical marijuana patients in the Rocky Mountain State — may be risking arrest every time they drive if the measure passes.

Even Rep. Levy, the sponsor of the bill which limits THC driving limits, is now having second thoughts about the five ng/ml limit, concerned that it may be so low as to unintentionally hurt patients like William Breathes.

“Among the concerns about HB 1261, the THC driving bill first offered by Representative Claire Levy, is the fact that THC can stay in the body days after patients medicate,” Breathes wrote. “And my latest test offers proof.”

The lab’s serum/plasma test showed Breathes’ THC count to be at 27. The number of active THC ng/ml count is about half that total, or around 13.5 ng/ml, according to Dr. Alan Shackelford, who ordered the blood work and evaluated the results.

According to Dr. Shakelford, Breathes was “in no way incapacitated” at the time of the test.

“In short: If this bill passes and I was pulled over by the police, I would be over the limit by 8.5 nanograms,” Breathes wrote. “By that logic, I would be more likely to have mowed down a family in my car on my way to the doctor’s office that day than actually arriving there safely.

“But I didn’t — because I wasn’t impaired,” Breathes wrote.

Article From Toke of the Town and used with special permission.


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  1. Many studies show people that smoke regularly drive better than those that don’t smoke.  Why should pot be different than cafine, asperin, or any other prescription drug.  Too many people have no clue of the affects of marijuana because they never tried it and have a misconseption of its affects.  Where is the imparment when someone smokes pot.  Many believe the pot smoker is more awhere of their surroundings and drive much better.  Many studies reinforce that way of thinking.  I’d rather be on the road with a hundred pot smokers than 100 random non pot smokers.  You may think that’s crazy but it’s the truth.  Pot smokers speed less and concintrate more. 

  2. Randi Griffin on

    The same criticism can be made of the limits for blood alcohol levels. The reality is, impairment while driving under the influence of any substance is a serious problem. That is true for THC as well as for alcohol. The fact that something akin to a breathalyzer test does not exist for THC could be used as an argument against its legalization because it indicates that marijuana will be more difficult to regulate on the roads than alcohol. Rather than simply ranting about how a method is “piss-poor” or “doesn’t do shit”, maybe propose a solution?

    I think that for any substance, a demonstration of physiological or cognitive impairment should come before any further testing. If a subject proves to be impaired on a cognitive task (e.g. involving reaction time or coordination), then s/he should not be driving anyhow and could be taken in for drug tests and questioning. The down side to this is that there is no objective measure, so its harder to set rules of thumb (e.g. one drink an hour).

    SWIM is better at nearly every basic cognitive task after few bowls of some good sativa and would exceed any reasonable blood-THC cutoff when driving.

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