DUI Standard in New Washington Marijuana Law May Be Too High: Expert

The threshold for the driving-under-the-influence standard that is part of the new Washington state marijuana law may be too high, a government expert told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Some marijuana users say the standard under the new law—a 5-nanograms-per-milliliter limit for the active ingredient in the drug, THC—is too low, and will unfairly criminalize people who use medical marijuana. However, recent research conducted by scientists from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) suggests the standard may be too high to capture drivers impaired by marijuana, the newspaper states.

Marilyn Huestis of NIDA, who conducted a recently published study on marijuana use and psychomotor function, says active THC quickly falls below the 5-nanogram limit within 24 hours. “The level of 5 nanograms per mil is pretty high,” she said. “We know that people are impaired at lower levels than 5, but the balancing act is trying to find a number that can reliably separate (the impaired from the not-impaired), which is almost impossible to do.”

An analysis of nine studies, published last year, found driving under the influence of marijuana is associated with an increased risk of a motor vehicle crash, especially for fatal collisions. The analysis found driving under the influence of marijuana was associated with almost twice the risk of a motor vehicle crash compared with unimpaired driving. The studies in the analysis included nearly 50,000 people.

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    September 23, 2017 at 12:30 AM

    It has to be based around the officer witnessing impaired driving.

    I’ve had a facial injury and spinal injury, and I looked a bit impaired for a while, looks are deceiving.

    A cut off point is reasonable, it has to be a math equation based off of rating the impaired driving on a scale, multiplying it into the thc level and getting some sort of number out of it.

    Cops can be intimidating, that plays a huge roll in the whole face to face diagnosis.

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    August 6, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    Driving is a privilege not a right, there’s a difference from limiting the use of medical marijuana on your own time and limiting its use when you are driving. People also are impaired at lower and higher levels than the legal alcohol limit, but it’s there to promote safety of yourself and others on the roadway, it’s a work in progress, but the limit is still something that should be respected at the very least for its intent to preserve life.

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      September 23, 2017 at 12:12 AM

      I agree with your point entirely, though I wonder how the idea that driving is a right, that comes with responsibility sits with you?

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    Michael Pace

    September 2, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    “Some marijuana users” think 5 nanograms per milliliter is too low? Like maybe two or three? And how about non-users of marijuana whose IQ is above room temperature?

    That blood level of THC can show up weeks after the last time someone took one puff of marijuana smoke.

    But I guess for people for whom logic and facts are irrelevant, no amount is too low.

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    August 25, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    I’m certainly concerned about driving under influence of marijuana. Mostly because in my past I drive a lot after smoking and eating foods with marijuana, as well as friends and family members. We had many close calls, it was only due to the fact that we drove late at night with fewer vehicles that we and others were spared.
    I’m quite upset about the upcoming vote on Oregons law change possible. I’m fine with medical and recreational use, but driving? Just hate the thought of accidents being proven before deciding.

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    July 20, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    I’ve seen tests where regular users of medical marijuana drove better after medicating. When you use it regularly, medical marijuana does not get you “stoned”. Some cancer patients using “Rick Simpson oil”, which has a very high THC content, and who do not like getting “stoned”, begin by using a small amount and gradually build-up to a gram daily WITHOUT ever getting stoned. By beginning with small amounts and building up the dose slowly over time, they slowly develop tolerance to the psychoactive effects of marijuana. While using a gram daily of RSO does not get them stoned, it has a huge amount of THC in it, which would put them way over the legal limit. Having a blood test for THC is illogical and irresponsible: only field sobriety tests make sense. If someone does fail a field sobriety test, THEN test their blood. If they aren’t impaired, it doesn’t matter how high their THC level is. Users of opioid and other drugs should be treated the same way. Even alcohol should be treated that way. Carl Sagen said he used marijuana to help his creativity, as did Dr. Feyman, and they were two of the best minds of the 20th century. I wouldn’t care if teachers medicated on their breaks between classes, because it might make them better teachers. If they get stoned and act like idiots, obviously then it becomes a problem, but that’s true with other drugs they might be using too. People who demonize medicinal cannabis (its proper name) are ignorant and hypocritical if they use alcohol, which is true about 90% of the time in my experience. I’ve been to medicinal cannabis gatherings where experienced users consumed massive amounts of the sacred medicinal herb, and they have intelligent conversations and are well behaved. Alcohol fueled parties are the total opposite: people act like idiots, say idiotic things, and often get violent. If ever there was a drug which should be banned, its alcohol, but I don’t believe it should be banned just because some people abuse it. I was an alcoholic and drug addict in the past, but the medicinal cannabis I use for health reasons also keeps me from drinking and drugging. Rather than discussing what health conditions cannabis can help, it’s easier to discuss what health conditions it doesn’t help, because it seems to help just about everything. Cannabis is the most valuable industrial plant on the planet, and the most valuable medicine and food – that’s why it’s been banned by the evil entity that controls our governments (ALL governments are controlled by the evil entity).

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