Northern Colorado minister files lawsuit against state over stoned driving bill

Minister says THC blood tests unfair

DENVER - A northern Colorado minister is suing the state over a stoned driving bill that is expected to be signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper next week.

Rev. Brandon Baker of Green Faith Ministry Native American Church in Nunn, Colo. says he uses marijuana for religious reasons and that the blood limit at which drivers would be considered impaired is too low for frequent users.

Baker’s church advocates the use of marijuana in its healing and religious practices.

House Bill 1325, which was passed earlier this month and is now awaiting Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signature, says drivers with 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood would be considered too impaired to drive. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The bill does allow people to argue they were sober at the stated limit.

The level of intoxication would be determined by a blood test. The bill has been fiercely debated because of questions over whether THC blood tests are a fair guage of impairment.

Baker says the limit will help convict pot users who aren't stoned behind the wheel. Some users always have elevated blood levels of THC.

"There is no way to differentiate between recreational, medical and religious use in cannabis," the lawsuit reads, "nor whether you are impaired" by traces of THC in blood samples.

The lawsuit calls THC levels that mark impairment according to the law "absurd" and says that determining the level of impairment is "strictly subjective" because it varies based on a person’s tolerance and weight.

"There must be sound science for testing and results, real probable cause with a valid warrant… with the ability to confront the professionals and accusers; to have valid, proper and legal blood draws which THEN only proves use," the lawsuit says.

The suit also calls the absence of a religious exemption in the law "unconstitutional."

Baker filed his lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Denver.

Hickenlooper has long advocated for a marijuana driving standard and is expected to sign it into law next week.

According to the Associated Press, Nevada and Ohio have a 2 nanogram THC limit for driving.

Last November, voters in Colorado passed Amendment 64 making marijuana effectively legal for recreational use in Colorado. It is still illegal under state law to buy or sell marijuana in any quantity or to consume it in public. Adults over 21 may now possess up to an ounce of marijuana, or six plants.