AUGUSTA — An effort before the Legislature to set a blood limit standard for marijuana-impaired drivers was criticized by pot advocates on Thursday who said science doesn’t support it.
Marijuana-impaired driving was a main focus of this year’s Maine Impaired Driving Summit, run by the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety and AAA at the Augusta Civic Center. Medical marijuana is legal in Maine, and in 2016 voters could be asked to decide on dueling proposals to legalize recreational marijuana, which only Colorado, Washington and Alaska have done so far.
As is the case with alcohol, driving while under the influence of marijuana and other drugs is prohibited in Maine. But it’s rarer and cases can be hard to prove. With alcohol, there’s a legal limit that indicates intoxication. Maine has no standard for marijuana, and of the nation’s 23 medical marijuana states, it’s one of 12 where convictions must be proved through a totality of evidence, including blood tests, erratic driving and sobriety test results, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.
Now the Legislature is considering a bill that would set a blood intoxication level of 5 parts per billion of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, marijuana’s psychoactive ingredient. Six states have legal limits and Colorado, Washington and Montana have set them at the level that Maine is considering.
In Maine, there were 3,600 convictions for operating under the influence of alcohol in 2014 alone, but from 2004 to 2014, just 3,250