Legalized Pot — High Time to Define Driving High


Using marijuana — for one reason or another — is now legal in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Congress is also looking hard at putting together some form of legislation to make it legal everywhere. As expected, law enforcement is cringing at the idea.

The main reason is the lack of ways to measure how high is too high.

David Sampson is the president and CEO of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. He recently penned an article for the online news source, The Hill. His group is now doing its annual meeting and one topic of discussion is how marijuana affects drivers and workers.

“As more states legalize marijuana, it is inevitable there are more people driving or working under its influence,” Sampson wrote. “Studies show marijuana use can impact reaction times and interfere with coordination, perception, judgement, and other critical abilities necessary for safe driving or functioning in the workplace.”

As things stand now, its close to impossible to know exactly how impaired someone is because a standardized test does not exist. That means an objective standard for what is, and what is not, impairment is critical.

“It is less predictable and less measurable than alcohol. The extent and effect of marijuana impairment does not clearly correlate with the amount of the psychoactive component, THC, in a users blood,” Samson explained. “The amount of THC can peak before a user experiences impairment, and it may remain in a users system for weeks after consumption. Therefore, a positive blood test result may not indicate the user is impaired at the time of the test.”

Sampson notes that states with legal recreational laws have found a correlation between an increase in auto crash frequency and legalization.

“There is a concern that increased legalization may also lead to an increase in workplace accidents,” Sampson wrote. “The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that employees who tested positive had 55 percent more industrial incidents and 85 percent more injuries.”

Change is needed.

“We need more public awareness and research to develop an objective standard of impairment and reliable methodology to determine impairment,” Sampson’s article concluded. “The Medical Marijuana Research Act, H.R. 5657, which passed the House, by vote of 343 to 75, in April 2022 is a good step towards the development of these critical elements. This legislation would ease restrictions on access to marijuana by research institutions and make it easier to conduct the needed research in order to better understand marijuana impairment.”

Source link: The Hill —

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