State

Sep 28, 2011 6:45 PM by Andy Koen

Views differ on medicated driving

Medical marijuana supporters in Colorado believe that some patients can safely drive even if they have recently medicated. But state troopers think those supporters may be giving out dangerous advice.

The Colorado Department of Transportation rolled out a public service announcement campaign last month warning drivers specifically not to use marijuana or prescription drugs before driving.

Laura Kriho of the Cannabis Therapy Institute, a marijuana education and advocacy group based in Boulder, says the campaign sends the wrong message to some medical marijuana patients.

"The C-DOT campaign, I think, is based more on fear and misinformation," Kriho said.

She says patients who take medical cannabis for treatment of chronic pain often do so continuously.

"If they feel like they can drive safely with cannabis, then it should be okay for them to drive," Kriho said.

Her organization recommends patients follow the printed warning issued by the Food and Drug Administration for prescriptions of Marinol, a pill form of marijuana. That warning advises users to not drive or operate machinery until they know how the drug will affect them.

Trooper Heather Cobler, a public information officer for the Colorado State Patrol, worries that suggestion will make some marijuana patients too confident behind the wheel.

"It worries me to the extent that we may have drugged drivers on the road that think that they're alright," Cobler said. "People that think they're driving fine tend to be more dangerous than people who know that they're highly intoxicated."

She says the threshold for impairment can be simple as a missed turn signal or too wide of a turn. Currently, drivers who are visibly impaired and have any amount of drug in their bloodstream can be charged with DUI.

State lawmakers are still discussing where to set legal limits for intoxication, if at all.

 

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