First of its Kind Study Finds Virtually No Driving Impairment Under the Influence of Marijuana

As cannabis prohibition laws crumble seemingly by the day, it’s allowing more research to be performed on this psychoactive substance that has long been a part of the human experience.

The first study to analyze the effects of cannabis on driving performance found that it caused almost no impairment. The impairment that it did cause was similar to that observed under the influence of a legal alcohol limit.

Researchers at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator carried out the study, sponsored by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy

“Once in the simulator—a 1996 Malibu sedan mounted in a 24-feet diameter dome—the drivers were assessed on weaving within the lane, how often the car left the lane, and the speed of the weaving. Drivers with only alcohol in their systems showed impairment in all three areas while those strictly under the influence of vaporized cannabis only demonstrated problems weaving within the lane.

Drivers with blood concentrations of 13.1 ug/L THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana, showed increased weaving that was similar to those with a .08 breath alcohol concentration, the legal limit in most states. The legal limit for THC in Washington and Colorado is 5 ug/L, the same amount other states have considered.”

As expected, there was impairment in all areas when alcohol and cannabis were mixed. But cannabis itself, when taken in moderate amounts, seems to cause no significant driving impairment.

In fact, some would argue that it makes them drive safer or slower.

The study’s findings further illuminate the fact that alcohol is a much more dangerous drug than cannabis, and somehow the former is legal while the latter is not.

With cannabis being decriminalized across the country, law enforcement will be getting their “rules and regulations” in place for the driving masses. They should be based on science and not Reefer Madness mentalities.

Another important finding should deter any attempts to deploy instant roadside tests for THC-blood levels.

“The study also found that analyzing a driver’s oral fluids can detect recent use of marijuana but is not a reliable measure of impairment.

“Everyone wants a Breathalyzer which works for alcohol because alcohol is metabolized in the lungs,” says Andrew Spurgin, a postdoctoral research fellow with the UI College of Pharmacy. “But for cannabis this isn’t as simple due to THC’s metabolic and chemical properties.”

More from NORML

4 thoughts on “First of its Kind Study Finds Virtually No Driving Impairment Under the Influence of Marijuana

  1. Pot and Alcohol will be combined. For the roadside cop separating one from the other through years of misconceptions is a lot to expect of a not terribly well educated officer. Inequities will happen and each one slows down the inevitable necessity. Federal/FDA approval of Cannabis Indica and Sativa.
    Until Doobie’s Federally approved, use of Cannabis will be controlled by a hodgepodge of laws and State Taxes, deductible on your 1040

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  2. Readers of this Zine need to write, email, their congressmen and Senators, State and Federal and encourage the end of the Federal Blockade against Cannabis. Federal Level One tax, plus state sales taxes, 1040 deductible. Legalization is too scattered now, States are legalizing while the Feds are caught in a DEA Bind, that must be voted away. Use your online presence in our new Digital Democracy write, write, to your representatives. Drive’em but. Make to point that Federal Legalization is the only way to free the wonderful drug to everyone, affordably.
    Your voice needs to be Heard, speak Up, be polite. Make your Point sebd the same letter, with some personalization to all the elected officcials that represennt you. BOMBARD THEM

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  3. Am I radical? No I’m saying to use your tradional routes to get laws changed, , When Congressman/women, Sebator X get enough emails They take notice. Each message represents a vote they may not get. You feel Powerless, valueless in this corrupt society, Take Control Back Again. Write, make phone calls, do that over and over again. You’ll get good at doing it. All of us that Write and call can change the way Cannabis is Regarded, Email I want Marijuana/Cannabis legalized at the Federal Level. Sign your namem be politiem Click Sebd. Your Senators, Congresspeople can be found by Googling your zipcode, congressmen, and Sebnators, State, and Federal.
    Now Get Writing, One Letter, One Phone Call is Never Enough. Blitzkrieg with emails, And hand written letters. and nervous at first, phone calls. SPEAK UP
    Thank You

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