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Questions And Answers About Denver Colorado Marijuana Drug Tests – Understanding How They Work – The passage of Colorado’s new recreational marijuana laws have predictably resulted in a spike in DUID – (Driving Under the Influence Of Drugs) charges.
The blood tests that are mandatory in these cases under Colorado’s Express Consent Laws – provide the foundation for evidence offered against the accused at trial to prove up the DUID (marijuana) charge.
This article helps those who are charged with driving under the influence of drugs to understand drug tests that make all the difference at trial.
Colorado state requires that blood tests – not urine tests – be administered in DUID – Marijuana investigations IF the officer has probable cause to believe you are driving while imnpaired by a drug, and or drugs and alcohol. Blood tests are designed to detect – in the bloodstream – the “active presence” of the controlled “psychoactive”substance ingredient in marijuana – THC.
Immediately after smoking marijuana – the active ingredient in marijuana – THC – peaks rapidly. This “spike” after inhaling can hit levels above 100 ng/ml in blood plasma tests. Those levels then very quickly drop off to single-digit levels within an hour.
The driver that has just smoked marijuana and is then stopped by law enforcement – may want to “legally” try to delay the investigation as long as possible before the blood test is administered.
While a high THC level can be evidence of the recent intake of marijuana, the drug (THC) most likely remains at low – but detectable – levels of 1-2 ng/ml for 8 hours or more without any “measurable signs of impairment” in inexperienced or one-time marijuana users. Here is the rub – in Colorado – the law allows a jury to believe you are impaired by marijuana if there is 5 nanograms of THC in your blood within two hours of driving.
The problem is confusion about the impact of marijuana on chronic users.
In chronic users of marijuana, detectable amounts of blood THC will remain in the bloodstream for days after smoking. In chronic users, residual THC was detected for 24 to 48 hours or longer at levels of 0.5 – 3.2 ng/ml in whole blood (1.0 – 6.4 ng/ml in serum) [Study – Skopp and Potsch].
Chronic users of marijuana – develop the kind of tolerance to THC that translates into these drivers having no problem driving safely even with very high blood levels of THC. This is no different than individuals in chronic pain who develop high tolerances to narcotic controlled substances and can therefore drive safely with these substances in their system
The defense of DUID cases – should NOT TURN on some arbitrary standard -but on the person that is charged with the crime. For example – one recent study held that a person with severe attention deficit disorder (ADD) who could NOT pass a driving test without marijuana – had no problem passing the same test with a blood level of 71 ng/ml [Study – Strohbeck-Kühner].
Another study of frequent chronic Cannabis users from 2008 found that cannabinoid blood concentrations from chronic users in the late elimination phase can be difficult to distinguish from concentrations measured in occasional users after acute cannabis use.
Finally a study performed by the the National Institute of Drug Abuse’s (NIDA) – found that chronic users came back as high as 7 nanograms 24 hours after ingestion of the marijuana. This situation – in a state that permits the legal use of recreational marijuana “sets up” many innocent persons to accusations of being legally intoxicated pursuant to the per Se 5 nanograms law.
Colorado law requires a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a Colorado driver’s performance was actually drug-impaired before a jury or judge can find them guilty of DUID. What this means is the drug test is only one piece of evidence in a DUID prosecution. Defendants can “rebut” the evidence they were impaired by marijuana – regardless of any drug test result.
In court – proof or lack of proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the sum total of the total evidence produced by in the case by EITHER SIDE:
The evidence in a typical Colorado DUID usually consists of:
Drug tests detect not only drugs but “metabolites.” Metabolites are byproducts of a controlled substance after it has been – you guessed it – metabolized by your system.
The half life of THC concentration is about 10 days. But individuals vary. Those with a fast metabolism have the shortest detection time and those with a slow metabolism (especially if they are chronic users) have the longest detection times.
There are so many variables here that actual marijuana detection times wildly vary on the individual – factors include:
Under what would be considered very rare circumstances – it can be argued that secondhand marijuana smoke can cause a drug test failure. Studies show that secondhand marijuana smoke can raise someone’s THC levels to and above the 5 ng/mL level – but the exposure has be to extreme.
One way this can happen is in very close quarters such as an automobile. In a closed car full of pot smokers for several hours – inhalation to this level might cause someone to test positive. This is NOT true in an open living room or garage where others are causally smoking marijuana.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author – A Denver Colorado Drug and Marijuana Crimes – Criminal Defense Lawyer – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-220-2277.
If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about the topic of this article – Questions And Answers About Denver Colorado Marijuana Drug Tests – Understanding How They Work, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.
H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom experience – specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range. He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options. Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case. Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.
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Colorado Defense Lawyer H. Michael Steinberg provides solid criminal defense for clients throughout the Front Range of Colorado – including the City and County courts of Adams County, Arapahoe County, City and County of Boulder, City and County of Broomfield, City and County of Denver, Douglas County, El Paso County – Colorado Springs, Gilpin County, Jefferson County, Larimer County, and Weld County,…. and all the other cities and counties of Colorado along the I-25 Corridor… on cases involving the topic of this article … Questions And Answers About Denver Colorado Marijuana Drug Tests – Understanding How They Work.