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How Do Drug Possession Laws Differ in Colorado?

In recent years, the legalization of recreational marijuana has sparked numerous debates and challenges, especially concerning road safety. While studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest that marijuana impairment may not be as severe as alcohol impairment, the question of identifying and penalizing drugged drivers remains a significant concern. Traditional field sobriety tests and standard breathalyzers designed for alcohol may not be effective in detecting marijuana use, leading to a potential gap in law enforcement efforts.

Attempting to bridge this gap, Hound Labs has introduced a potential solution – a breathalyzer designed to detect alcohol and marijuana. However, a critical examination of this innovation reveals that it may not necessarily enhance public safety as intended.

One of the fundamental challenges lies in the current legal framework surrounding marijuana impairment. Unlike the well-established blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08, the legal limit for THC (the psychoactive compound in marijuana) in the bloodstream lacks a solid scientific basis for determining impairment. Presently, if a driver is found with 0.05 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, they are considered under the influence. This arbitrary threshold raises concerns about the accuracy of assessing impairment solely based on THC levels.

Furthermore, marijuana differs significantly from alcohol and other substances in terms of detection and elimination from the body. While alcohol tends to leave the system relatively quickly, marijuana can linger for an extended period. The existing legal framework fails to consider this crucial distinction. Individuals who haven’t smoked for a week may still register THC levels of 0.05, potentially leading to unwarranted penalties for drivers who are not actively impaired.

For a marijuana breathalyzer to fulfill its intended purpose, a comprehensive reevaluation of marijuana DUI laws is essential. It is crucial to establish scientifically sound criteria for impairment that consider the unique properties of marijuana, such as its prolonged presence in the body. Relying on an arbitrary THC threshold without a clear correlation to impairment may result in the unjust punishment of individuals who pose no immediate threat on the road.

While the idea of a marijuana breathalyzer may seem like a step in the right direction, its effectiveness hinges on the accuracy and fairness of the legal framework supporting it. Legislators and law enforcement agencies must collaborate to develop evidence-based policies that prioritize public safety without unfairly penalizing individuals who may not pose a risk due to outdated or insufficiently nuanced regulations.


In summary, the examination of drug possession laws in Colorado reveals a nuanced legal landscape shaped by various factors, including the type and quantity of substances involved. While Colorado has adopted a more lenient approach towards certain controlled substances, the legal consequences remain significant for others. Gaining a comprehensive understanding of these laws is vital for individuals navigating the legal system. Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, with their expertise in criminal defense, is a valuable resource for anyone facing drug possession charges in Colorado. Their dedication to offering thorough legal advice ensures that individuals get the representation necessary to navigate the intricacies of the legal system and pursue optimal outcomes in their cases.

Do you have further questions or concerns? Call us or contact the attorneys at Thomas & Ahnell, LLC, and we will be happy to help.

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