Motorists who have smoked too much marijuana would be subject to the same penalties as drunk drivers under legislation introduced Thursday in the House.
The bill would expand the federal definition of impaired drivers to those who are physically or mentally slowed due to the use of marijuana, according to its author, Rep. Jared Polis.
The Democratic lawmaker hails from Colorado, where marijuana is now legal for recreational use.
“As more and more states follow the will of their citizens and implement regulations to treat marijuana like alcohol, it is vital that we keep our roads safe and save lives by updating our driving under the influence laws,” Polis said in a written statement.
The Limiting Unsafe Cannabis-Impaired Driving Act would establish a single, yet-to-be determined federal standard for drivers under the influence of pot. States that have decriminalized marijuana could lose federal funding if they do not set standards meeting the federal benchmark.
In Colorado, five nanograms of active THC in the blood is considered the legal limit for drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a branch of the Transportation Department, would be charged with implementing and enforcing the new regulations.
The bill has the backing of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), as well as the state’s transportation department and police chiefs association.
"It is imperative that with the likelihood of the majority of states in the union moving toward legalizing the use of either medical or recreational marijuana or both, that all states adopt robust legislation to prevent and deter driving under the influence of marijuana,” said Tom Raynes, executive director of the Colorado District Attorneys' Council.