Marijuana has become legal in several states for medical purposes, and states like California have taken the side of recreational use as well. This change in policy surrounding the topic of marijuana has many implications, both socially and economically. There is much debate over when and where recreational use of marijuana should take place – is it responsible for someone to be smoking while in their car, or driving? Questions of intoxication come into effect as the government tries to determine the most effective way of ensuring safety on the road.
Popular societal opinion is that alcohol is much more dangerous than marijuana when it comes to driving. However, the effects of being high don’t go unnoticed – currently police in various states can only test for marijuana by taking them to the police station and administering a blood test, because there is currently no breathalyzer tool that can be used. The Washington Post states that policemen are gauging the intensity of marijuana in a person’s system by judging a legal standard – 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. This can still present issues, however.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana can be consumed in a variety of ways, each effecting the body differently. Users can consume marijuana through drinks, candies, cookies, or by smoking it, and each affects a person’s body differently. New research is showing that if a person consumes marijuana in edible form, they may not show up as intoxicated by legal standards. Researcher Ryan Vandrey from John Hopkins University conducted a study where participants consumed marijuana brownies of varying strength that matched the THC levels that would classify someone as intoxicated.
Over several days, blood tests were conducted and although the brownies caused a decrease in attentiveness, physical coordination and ability to concentrate, only 11% of participants had blood levels above the level of intoxication. This means that 89% of them would have been classified by law enforcement as unimpaired. Does this mean that eating forms of marijuana is safer than smoking it? When it comes to driving, possibly, but the results aren’t conclusive yet.
More research is being conducted regarding the amount of marijuana and type of consumption that could impair someone’s driving. However, it is always safer to drive sober.
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