Among the many positive aspects of Colorado’s new stance on recreational marijuana is the growth of a new form of tourism—pot-themed vacations. Before you embark on your cannabis-friendly vacation trip, you need to understand just what the law allows to avoid any unpleasant encounters with law enforcement officials. Here are some of the basics:
- You must be 21 or older to possess or use marijuana.
- It is still illegal to consume marijuana in public.
- It is also illegal to sell marijuana or marijuana products without a license.
- You also cannot take marijuana out of Colorado when you leave.
- Finally, it is illegal to drive while high or impaired to the slightest degree on marijuana.
Driving While High = Driving Under the Influence
As with alcohol, legal consumption of marijuana does not give you the right to operate a motor vehicle under the influence or while impaired. The Colorado DUI statute does not separate driving drunk from driving high. Driving under the influence is the crime, and the penalties are severe. A DUI-D is a surefire way to ruin your vacation, and depending on the circumstances, your future.
Particular Issues Regarding Out-of-State DUI-Ds
Dealing with an out-of-state DUI is particularly troublesome. First, you will have to deal with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles and Colorado’s criminal justice system. In addition, Colorado must inform your home state if it revokes your license in Colorado. This means that your home state could revoke your driver’s license independently or it could honor any revocation imposed by the state of Colorado. Additionally, you would not receive the benefits of being a Colorado resident for early-reinstatement purposes. Finally, edible marijuana raises special concerns, as residents and tourists alike are not used to its potency and long-lasting effects.
What Constitutes Driving Under The Influence of Marijuana?
Colorado is one of the few states to set a legal inference on the amount of THC in the blood that defines someone as “under the influence.” This inference is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to determine when that limit is reached as it is for alcohol consumption.
The body processes alcohol relatively quickly and, therefore, is easy to test for. Marijuana testing requires a blood sample and can turn up long after ingestion. If you are a regular marijuana user, your body may store the THC in your fatty tissue, waiting to cause you to fail a DUI test regardless of whether you were actually impaired or high at the time.
Tip: Plan Ahead to Avoid the Potential for a DUI-D
Answer any transportation questions before you set off on your cannabis vacation. For instance:
- Identify a designated driver up front. Make sure everyone understands that this driver should have zero alcohol or THC in his or her system. This restriction includes not driving at all on any given day that you consume edible marijuana, as the effects and potency differ from smoking the plant.
- Plan to use public transportation and taxis to get around. Make sure you have the correct bus fare you will need for the day!
- Confine your visit to one area where driving will not be an issue. Denver is a beautiful city that you can easily enjoy on foot, by cab, lightrail, or bus. Plan out your route early so you know where to stay, where to go and how to get there.
Whatever you do, you should have the plan in place before you arrive. If you do not follow this plan, or if something goes awry, call on an experienced DUI defense attorney in Colorado at (303) 384-5280 or contact Tiftickjian Law Firm online. We literally wrote the book on DUI defense in Colorado and are leading the field in representing clients facing out-of-state DUI-D charges.