The push for legalization has largely been hindered by hypotheticals. Whether a legal market will encourage the youth to smoke more or if there will be an increase of drivers on the road under the influence of cannabis are all questions that have been posed. The latter of these issues has been far more contentious, especially as studies have proven that legalization hasn’t affected DUI statistics.
Some states with regulated cannabis markets have equipped law enforcement officers with devices to test drivers for THC levels. However, a new study funded by the National Institute of Justice affirmed speculation that it’s not an accurate indicator of impairment.
The research study was conducted with 20 participants who either ate or vaporized cannabis with different levels of THC. Vape carts are known to be more potent than flower. From there, they did a field sobriety test and cognitive tests to indicate just how inebriated they were. Ultimately, the findings indicated that those who consumed over 5mg of THC were “negatively impacted” in the test and were noticeably impaired. Still, researchers concluded that “THC levels in biofluids were not reliable indicators of marijuana intoxication for their study participants.”
The RTI researchers who conducted the study also said that basic tests like standing balancing on one leg or walking and turning, “were not sensitive to cannabis intoxication for any of the study participants.” Additionally, toxicology reports via blood, urine, or oral fluid samples also didn’t attest to cannabis intoxication levels.
“Results from the toxicology tests showed that the levels of all three targeted cannabis components (THC, cannabidiol, and cannabinol) in blood, urine, and oral fluid did not correlate with cognitive or psychomotor impairment measures for oral or vaporized cannabis administration,” the research reads.
This, of course, highlights an issue of laws that prohibit people from driving if they have a certain amount of THC in their blood.
“These important findings come as no surprise,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told Marijuana Moment. “Despite a handful of states imposing per se THC thresholds as part of their traffic safety laws, there exists no science demonstrating that these arbitrary limits are reliable predictors of either recent cannabis exposure or impairment.”
Regardless of where you stand on the matter, it’s always best to take caution before driving a car if you’re medicated.