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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Marijuana Driving Legal Limit Debate

The debate over the legal limit for driving under the influence of marijuana continues after the legalization of the drug was passed last year in some states. Officials in the state of Washington are trying to determine how police officers can determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana use, The Wall Street Journal reports.

There is hardly a consensus on what blood level of THC, the active ingredient that causes euphoria in marijuana, debilitates drivers, the newspaper points out.

Currently, those drivers with five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood or higher are deemed under the influence. Drivers convicted of driving under the influence for alcohol or drugs are required to install ignition interlock devices; however, such devices are unable to detect the presence of marijuana.

Marijuana use is also legal in Colorado, where legislators passed a measure earlier this month setting a five-nanogram legal limit on THC as well. Although, the new bill gives drivers arrested a chance to prove they were not impaired.

Tolerance is a topic for consideration according to R. Andrew Sewell, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine; a person who has built up a tolerance to marijuana may not be impaired at the five-nanogram limit.

Sewell also points out that THC leaves the blood quickly, setting legal limits “is going to cause a lot of impaired drivers to be missed and it’s going to cause a lot of innocent people to get arrested,” he told the newspaper. It is also worth noting that less than 1 percent of the country’s police officers are fully trained in conducting sobriety tests for drivers impaired by drugs, according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
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