In 2005 Colorado legislators moved to legalize the use of marijuana for certain specific medical reasons. The so-called “medical marijuana’ law has been in place for the past several years now and the state has seen an economic boom which sustained it through the recent Great Recession.

However, police have also seen an increase in the number of  drivers they suspect of operating a motor vehicle while stoned, but without a law allowing them to test a driver’s blood level for tell-tale signs of marijuana police have been powerless to do anything about it. All of that is about to change however, if a new law continues moving through the Colorado legislature.

On an 18-17 vote, the Colorado Senate approved a measure making it easier to convict people of driving stoned on marijuana. The bill now moves to the Colorado House where it seems likely to garner enough support to pass, although the bill looked dead on arrival when it got to the Senate earlier this week.

The new law would set a limit for the amount of THC-the psycho active chemical in marijuana which makes people feel “high”- at 5 nanograms-per-milliliter of blood. This is a similar method to the setting the blood alcohol content at .08 and is similarly enforceable.

Police entrusted with the power to protect public safety, but that power only goes as far as the law allows. So far police have been powerless to address what they perceive is a real threat to driver safety on the roads in Colorado. If the proposed bill eventually becomes law police will have one more weapon in their effort to get “stoned” drivers off the road.

If the bill passes the Colorado legislature it also seems likely that it will spur other states to pursue similar laws in an effort to combat the growing marijuana problem in the United States.