Cannabis Now the Largest Intoxicant for DriversNovember 21, 2018
A recent study suggests that cannabis may now be the largest intoxicant for drivers. Production and sale of marijuana was only recently legalized in some states and research on these issues is relatively sparse. The study, published in De Gruyter’s Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, analyzes the effects of driving under the influence of cannabis and the available options for testing Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels.
According to recent poll, 62 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana, which has already been legalized recreationally in 10 states and medically in 33 states. The study warns that due to this recent legalization, the number of people that drive under the influence of drugs will rise, leading to increased accidents and injuries. With Americans spending approximately 15 billion hours under the influence of marijuana per year, cannabis intoxication poses a significant threat to drivers’ safety.
Different Opinions Regarding the Effects of Marijuana and Driving
Many marijuana users believe that THC does not impair driving. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), THC mildly impairs psychomotor skills and slows drivers’ reaction times to emergency situations, but that impairment does not significantly contribute to road crashes. The topic of whether marijuana intoxication affects driving performance is hotly debated. Some assert that it does not play a significant role in vehicle crashes while others point to its potential effects on judgment, motor coordination, concentration, and reaction time as evidence that it increases the risk of car accidents.
The study’s authors posit that driving under the influence of cannabis remains less risky than driving under the influence of alcohol. However, cannabis still contributes to accident risk, especially when combined with alcohol and other drugs. It is difficult to determine an individual’s level of impairment after use, which makes it difficult to determine whether and to what extent drugged driving contributed to the accident.
Lack of Adequate Testing
Breath tests, such as the ones used for alcohol, to detect cannabis have not yet been developed. Oral-fluid testing can be conducted to determine whether a person has recently used cannabis, but it cannot demonstrate that person’s level of impairment. Medical professionals can perform a blood test at a medical facility to test for levels of cannabis impairment, however, even these results are not strong evidence of how recently cannabis was used or the extent of an individual’s impairment. Also, blood THC levels drop significantly only a few minutes after use, making it challenging to receive accurate results.
Drugged Driving is Discouraged
One of the study’s authors says that even if an acceptable test could be developed, drugged driving should be treated as a traffic infraction rather than a crime unless aggravating circumstances exist. The article recommends discouraging driving under the influence of cannabis by making it a traffic offense and launching campaigns to highlight the risks.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Those Injured in Drugged Driving Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident, contact an experienced Baltimore car accident lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries so that you can focus on your recovery. Contact us online or call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) for a free, confidential consultation.
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