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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Government Researchers Studying Drugged Driving

As states become more tolerant of marijuana use, with two states currently allowing the recreational use of the drug, it stands to reason that driving under the influence of marijuana is more common. Government researchers are studying how marijuana affects drivers, so states can develop appropriate guidelines for drugged driving, according to USA Today.

Researchers are looking into two things, the effect of marijuana alone, as well as the combination of marijuana and alcohol. The data collected will help legislators determine better what is considered drugged driving with the hope of setting a limit similar to blood alcohol levels.

Since the study took place at the University of Iowa, a smoke free campus, study participants used vaporizers, according to the article. Marijuana was provided by the University of Mississippi’s federal growing facility. Study participants were given either marijuana, marijuana and alcohol, or a placebo. After consuming one of the above they were then put into driving simulators that mimic real driving conditions. The 19 participants in the study were given blood and saliva tests so that researchers could determine the participants' level of intoxication.

“In this country, there’s a huge controversy over whether there should be zero tolerance or there should be some level that’s acceptable. It’s a terribly difficult problem,” said Marilyn Huestis, Chief of Chemistry and Drug Metabolism at the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “We will be looking at what are the kinds of functions that are affected, and whether they are significantly different … whether alcohol is on board or not.”

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