How High Is Too High to Drive? Proposed Bill Would Set Limits for Weed DUI.

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By Bree Burkitt

January 25, 2021

States like Nevada, Colorado, and Washington already have similar limits in place.

A bill introduced in the Arizona Legislature would define exactly how much weed someone has to have in their system to be considered too high to drive.

Currently, drivers can be convicted of driving under the influence if they have any level of marijuana “metabolites” in their system. In short, all that needs to be proved is that the weed has impacted ones driving ability in any way.

House Bill 2084 would establish a threshold for driving under the influence. 

The bill, which is sponsored by Rep. John Kavanagh (R-Fountain Hills) proposes that anyone with a blood concentration of 2 nanograms per milliliter or more of THC in their system could be convicted for driving under the influence. 

Typically, the chemicals found in weed can be detected for up to a month after someone uses even though the person is no longer intoxicated. To combat this, HB 2084 requires the offending levels to be identified within two hours of the driver being in control of a car. 

READ MORE: Recreational Weed Sales Officially Given the Green Light in Arizona

A blood test would be used to determine the levels. If the driver refuses, the officer can then just get a warrant signed by a judge and the sample can be taken by force, if necessary. It’s not clear how this would play out if it took more than the proposed two-hour time frame to obtain a warrant. 

The Department of Public Safety—the statewide law enforcement tasked with patrolling Arizona’s highways — hasn’t taken a position on the bill; the agency doesn’t comment on pending legislation. 

The amount of marijuana it would take to hit the proposed level differs from person to person as people are impacted differently by the drug depending on their usage levels, body weight, and other factors. 

Other states have set DUI limits, including Washington and Colorado. Both states set a limit of 5 nanograms of THC per millilter of whole blood.

However, drivers who fall below the limit in those states can still be cited for driving while impaired based on other factors.

Proposed Limit Mirror Other States

While Arizona’s limits would be lower than Colorado and Washington, it would be in line with what’s already established in neighboring Nevada.

Adam Goers, the vice president of corporate affairs for Columbia Care, which operates the SWC dispensaries in Tempe and Prescott, said he and others in the industry are generally in support of measures that aim to prevent impaired driving. 

“We have the same goal that everyone has—just let’s just make sure we get it done right,” Goers said. 

He added that the laws will need to continue to develop as weed becomes more commonplace in Arizona and across the country. 

“… [There’s] a lot more education that needs to happen, as well as ensuring the right technology and protocols, as well as limits, are put in place to ensure people who are impaired are not driving,” he said. “And, at the same time, having the predictability for legal adults 21 and over that choose to legally and responsibility use cannabis to understand what it means for them.”

What do you think about the bill? Let reporter Bree Burkitt know [email protected].

READ MORE: What Arizonans Need to Know About Weed and Driving


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