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UI studies impact of marijuana on driving

TRUCE will never endorse impaired driving for any reason. However understanding the RELATIVE impairment in driving related to alcohol, cannabis and in combination is of great importance in establishing sound policies and laws.

Researchers at the Univ. of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator – the only publicly owned high tech device of its kind – carried out the study, sponsored by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, as part of a larger ongoing project.

“’Alcohol is the most common drug present in the system in roadside stops by police; cannabis is next, and cannabis is often paired with alcohol below the legal limits,’ said Tim Brown, research scientist at NADS and co-author. ‘So: Is alcohol an issue? Is cannabis an issue? We know alcohol is an issue, but is cannabis an issue or is cannabis an issue when paired with alcohol? We tried to find out.’

Once in the simulator—a 1996 Malibu sedan mounted in a 24-ft diameter dome—the drivers were assessed on weaving within the lane, how often the car left the lane, and the speed of the weaving. Drivers with only alcohol in their systems showed impairment in all three areas while those strictly under the influence of vaporized cannabis only demonstrated problems weaving within the lane.”

In other words, the cannabis users showed less overall impairment, i.e., they weren’t impaired on two of the three scales used.

Further, although not “twice as bad” as alcohol, using both impacted driving more than alcohol alone, so along with not drinking and driving, most especially do NOT drink, smoke and drive. Ever.

“Drivers with blood concentrations of 13.1 ug/L THC showed increased weaving that was similar to those with a .08 breath alcohol concentration, the legal limit in most states. The legal limit for THC in Washington and Colorado is 5 ug/L.

The study also found that analyzing a driver’s oral fluids can detect recent use of marijuana but is not a reliable measure of impairment.

‘Everyone wants a Breathalyzer which works for alcohol because alcohol is metabolized in the lungs,’ says Andrew Spurgin, a postdoctoral research fellow with the UI College of Pharmacy. ‘But for cannabis this isn’t as simple due to THC’s metabolic and chemical properties’.”

That is, cannabis IMPAIRMENT is both more subtle and harder to determine than alcohol impairment.

These findings are consistent with other studies we’ve reviewed, and are nicely controlled. Since 2015, other studies continue to delve into the matter of how best to determine possible cannabis impairment as a practical matter out in the world, and while no truly satisfactory answers have been recognized to date, we see signs of progress on the technical side.

Meanwhile, state laws remain in flux given the lack consensus.

#MMJ #Research #Driving #DUI #Alcohol #UTpol #TRUCE    

See full article – UI studies impact of marijuana on driving


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