THE FIVE-NANOGRAM RULE
Of course, all of this hinges on having a legal standard to measure against. Some states in the U.S. where medicinal marijuana is legal have already established zero-tolerance policies for driving under the influence of cannabis; get caught with THC in your bloodstream while driving and it's an immediate conviction regardless of how much THC that is (or whether it is the cause of your impairment). But with Washington state and Colorado opening the door to legal, recreational use of cannabis their legislatures are choosing -- like several other medicinal marijuana states -- to treat cannabis more like alcohol. That is, you can toke a responsible amount and still get behind the wheel, but should you cross a certain threshold you are in serious legal trouble.
So where does the five-nanogram-per-milliliter rule established by both Washington and Colorado come from? Not from Washington or Colorado. It's an administrative decision that might seem somewhat arbitrary, though it's no more arbitrary than decreeing that somewhere between .07 BAC and .08 BAC a person transforms from capable to dangerously drunk. The five-nanogram rule is rooted in several studies and for several scientific reasons, the first of which actually sides with the regular marijuana user. In the first studies that emerged showing that blood tests could detect residual THC in the bodies of chronic cannabis users even days after they last dosed, none of those chronic users registered higher than five nanograms per milliliter at 24 hours after their last dose, Huestis says. So the rule is in part designed to reduce the likelihood that chronic users will get slapped with D.U.I.D. convictions when in fact they haven't consumed cannabis in more than a day.
The other reason states tend to gravitate toward the five-nanogram rule is far more nebulous, but there's some scientific evidence, borne out by data, that when THC counts in the bloodstream of a driver are at five nanograms per milliliter or higher, that driver's chance of being involved in a fatal accident begin to climb steeply. One Australian study found that with any measurable THC in the bloodstream a driver is twice as likely to be involved in a fatal accident, but at five nanograms per millimeter of THC that number jumps to 6.6. times more likely, Huestis says. Five nanograms is the point where the chances of something bad happening seem to start climbing steeply.
But that's not really so clear. Some German studies have shown significant impairment in subjects testing in the area between two and five nanograms per milliliter (Germany is considering adopting the five-nanogram standard as well) and in Sweden, where standards for impaired driving are among the most rigorous and enforced by stringent legal penalties (the legal BAC limit is 0.02, or a quarter that of the U.S.), one laboratory found that 90 percent of that country's cannabis impairment cases had a level of one nanogram of THC per milliliter. So where impairment is concerned there's a lot of gray area -- and a lot of scientific debate -- between zero nanograms and five nanograms per milliliter, not to mention a lot of varying opinion on what constitutes "impaired."
But ultimately the long-sought portable roadside THC test for law enforcement may be less important than many have made it out to be. After all, in the eyes of the law no one really cares how impaired you are, only that you are impaired. That's the way it works for alcohol impairment, and the way it has worked for years. Though easier to measure and evaluate at the roadside, blood alcohol concentration really has no quantifiable correlation to how impaired a person is. Alcohol affects different people in different ways, but regardless you still go to jail for driving in the U.S. with a blood alcohol concentration that tops 0.08 (celebrities and the politically well-connected notwithstanding). How capable you really are of driving is beside the point.
Like the five-nanogram standard, the 0.08 blood alcohol concentration limit was an administrative decision. And as with the 0.08 rule, governments will likely simply set THC standards wherever the existing body of science makes them feel comfortable. Creating such a threshold not only establishes a firm legal standard that can hold up in court, but it somewhat obviates the need for precision roadside testing -- a simple field sobriety test for THC impairment testing for time and depth perception, coordination, and other psychomotor abilities tied to cannabis impairment will do, and officers already have those kinds of tests in their collective toolbox.
Of course, a reliable 'breathalyzer' for marijuana -- something easily administered at the roadside that's capable of returning a number that, like blood alcohol concentration, correlates roughly to a degree of impairment -- isn't completely out of reach. If the new recreational marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington state have created something of a regulatory headache, it's a headache that recreational pot laws might also be able to cure. If necessity is the mother of invention, these new laws have certainly created a need among the legal community that is helping to focus the science and technology community on potential solutions.
"This is a hot area right now, and there really is a lot of attention being paid in my field to oral fluid testing for drugs of abuse in general," Kahn says of the potential for a portable THC testing device. "The kinds of issues we're talking about are exactly why. This is where it's headed. It may not happen in exactly the way that we think, but in one way or another I think it will happen sooner or later."
Ya, i realized last night my argument was a bit flawed. It turned more personal and defensive. I'm in no way trying to claim marijuana doesn't cause impairment. The point i'm trying to make is that daily smokers do have a tolerance and smoking a bowl or two before driving isn't going to affect your ability to drive. Moreover, the people who are not daily smokers, and have never tried or only tried it a few times are making the assumption that smoking a bowl is the equivalent to getting drunk as opposed to having a beer.
Yeah, no worries. I understand your point from personal and scientific perspective, and in some respect I agree with you. In all honesty, I'm really not all that worried about high drivers, but bad drivers that are high, that could be a recipe for disaster. I can honestly say the effects of marijuana aren't so drastic when it comes to driving, especially because in studies they find that high drivers tend to drive slower...However, as with any newly introduced legal drug, there is a responsibility from the government to implement laws to ensure the safety of its citizens. This article indicates the starting point.
Ha, bad drivers will be bade drivers. Take bad drivers and add in distracting variables (marijuana, phone, makeup, ect.) and you've always got a recipe for disaster. Let's side step the whole debate about what to do with high drivers by just finding a way to get the irresponsible drivers off the road lol.
Step one: How about a test the requires me to answer more than 10 multiple choice questions about the color of a stop sign before we hand out learners permits? It's not like people go back and learn more about traffic laws or who has the right of way after they've taken these disgustingly easy tests.
... i really don't like that i can't edit a post to fix spelling and grammatical errors I've missed.
Yeah, that may be one place to start, and possibly more effective than saliva testing for THC levels. Kind of like a sobriety test they do on drivers, but with questions and pyschomotor tests that gauge the level of impairment by THC. I actually think that is something that will likely be added to roadside sobriety tests, and the tests will likely be based off of feasible experiments done in lab to estimate levels of impairment.
Nevaeh. you think Jason`s storry is great, on thursday I bought Lotus Elise since I been earnin $6729 this-last/4 weeks and-more than, ten-k lass-month. it's certainly my favourite job I have ever had. I began this 9-months ago and right away was making more than $73.. per-hr. I follow this website, Go to site and open Home for details
@theKid11, you realize that a huge portion of the US smokes marijuana, right? You also realize that they have been for a long, long time. If your argument was sound, we'd have seen far more cases than the two friends you reported. I'm sorry, it's not a big "epidemic" and it never will be. Your friends just as likely got into accidents because they are bad drivers. Being stoned may not have had anything to do with it. Same goes for the story of the guy dropping a masonry wall, you assume marijuana caused him to have an accident but guess what? With so many smokers, you're assured there will be some overlap in people that smoke and people that have accidents but that doesn't mean one causes the other.
Yes, I do. I also realize the it's he most used illicit drug in the world. Alcohol is the most used legal drug.
Perhaps you are just in denial, or refuse to accept the potential harm people could place on themselves or others by smoking and then hopping in a vehicle. Marijuana is the SECOND leading cause behind alcohol for motor vehicle accidents. Yes, as I said, bad drivers will be more likely to get in an accident regardless of any intoxication, but intoxication increases their likelihood of getting in an accident. In other words, impairment often CAUSES accidents. Whether you are mentally impaired because you are a bad driver, or you are mentally impaired because you smoked before getting in the car. So yes, marijuana can CAUSE car accidents, it just isn't the ONLY cause for an accident.
People seem to take the definition of causality to an extreme. No, marijuana will not ALWAYS CAUSE an accident when a person smokes and then drives, but yes, it CAN CAUSE an accident, and often does.
It would be entirely irresponsible for any state government to not implement laws that protect the safety of its people, particularly when a previously illegal drug has made the transition to a legal one. Please don't mistake my opinion for a dislike of marijuana. Marijuana is fascinating to me, and spectacularly mild when it comes to health concerns and psychoactive effects of other legal drugs (ex: alcohol), but you need to read up on the facts and quit living in denial if you think that it is okay for people to continue to drive around stoned in a place where it is legal to smoke MJ.
Here is some info you can read up on.
Impact of Prolonged Cannabinoid Excretion in Chronic Daily Cannabis Smokers' Blood on Per Se Drugged Driving Laws; 2013 (Mateus M. Bergamaschi et al).
Acute cannabis consumption and motor vehicle collision risk: systematic review of observational studies and meta-analysis; 2012 (Asbridge M, Hayden JA, Cartwright JL).
They need to make it legal! Yeah!!!no.. but really they need to make a can only start car if there is no marijuana in your system. It will come in a few years. But should push for it now..