AS SUPPORT FOR MARIJUANA legalization expands throughout the country, California, the first state to legalize the drug, is working to de- termine how its use can be regulated among drivers.
Research done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has determined af- ter using marijuana, peo- ple generally have more
trouble staying in lanes, they struggle to do multiple tasks at once and have seri- ous problems maintaining concentration on long, mo- notonous drives.
Los Angeles is now at the forefront of law enforce- ment’s responses regulating the amount of marijuana
that drivers have in their system before hitting the road. The city has also received a federal grant to try out a new roadside drug test: oral swabs.
This new test can be performed at the time of a traffic stop. It seeks to provide the officer with an immediate result as to whether drugs are present in the driver’s system by testing his or her saliva.
Evidence found by the Insurance In- stitute for Highway Safety shows that al- cohol has a stronger effect than marijuana on crash risk but that there is simply a larg- er body of research on the strong association between blood-alcohol concentrations and crash risk.
Washington and Colorado are among the few states that have established a legal limit on the amount of marijuana in a driver’s blood.
For alcohol, po- lice around the coun- try carry hand-held Breathalyzers. Law enforcement’s abil- ity to test drivers for marijuana is not quite as easy because most marijuana testing must be performed in a lab.
According to a study at the Univer- sity of California, Los Angeles, it’s tough to interpret exactly what those tests mean for driving ability.
Those who are in favor of marijuana legalization say they agree that people should know their limits and should not drive while impaired, but they’re concerned that police officers will substitute this new technology and a legal limit with their own judgment.
The Drum Staff Report