Legal cannabis use is on the rise in the United States following several liberal legislations. As many citizens now have ready access to this once-illicit drug, society needs to take a big step on how we regulate its use.
While cannabis use is relatively safe in controlled environments, its euphoric effects impact human performance. Stereotypically, the results of cannabis are known to be “relaxing.”
Although these sensations may feel pleasant, there may be a time and place for its use. One of the biggest concerns involves driving when under the influence of cannabis.
Is It Safe To Smoke And Drive?
There are many restrictions put in place, limiting driving under the influence of certain substances. Most notably, we all know the dangers of drinking alcohol and getting behind the wheel of a car. There are even some prescription drugs that warn users of driving or “operating heavy machinery” during the medication’s effect.
All drugs are different and cannot be thrown under the same umbrella and treated the same. So, what do experts say about cannabis and driving?
In general, the way cannabis impacts cognitive functioning throws up some red flags. Delayed reaction times and impaired judgment are not a good mix to have when out on the road.
In particular, one study decided to look at a cross-sectional data set of fatal car crashes in the United States over a decade. While the data points were filtered out only to examine the presence of cannabis and alcohol in the bloodstream, their final analysis found cannabis led to a higher risk of dangerous accidents.
What this means is that we really should control the cannabis levels among drivers. Unfortunately, the practicality of testing drivers has always been a bit of an issue.
How did officials measure cannabis levels before?
Historically, if someone wanted to know the cannabis levels in your system, they would have to conduct a proper drug test. These tests measure levels of THC found in blood or urine. You would test positive for smoking your typical marijuana strain, but not for hemp or CBD oil from your topical treatment.
There are several problems individuals can encounter when relying on such tests.
For starters, these tests take time. You can’t merely pull someone to the side of the road and analyze tests in a police car. Often, the only people who would even get tested for driving would be individuals after an accident happened. It is just completely inconvenient and, unless someone has broken the law, you can’t merely pull people off the road and ask them to refrain from driving until the results come back.
Second, these results don’t offer such an accurate time window. For example, you could have smoked a little marijuana last weekend, and your test could come back positive after six days of being completely sober. Imagine how difficult it would be if alcohol stayed that long in your system, and you had to refrain from driving for a month every time you went out for a cocktail.
Many lawmakers have been looking to design a breathalyzer that could detect cannabis levels in real-time.
Do we have a cannabis breathalyzer yet?
While there is no working model yet – experts are optimistic we are close to one! Oklahoma just announced they would be giving $300k to this project.
This bill is an excellent step towards keeping the roads safe without unfairly punishing those who happened to use cannabis in the last few days. Hopefully, these changes will make it safer for those in need to use cannabis without fear of unlawful persecution.
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