Experts raise concerns about Ottawa’s planned crackdown on drug-impaired drivers
Bill C-46, which would create new drug-impaired driving offences, is currently being studied in the Senate, where there is growing pressure on senators to amend the proposed legislation before it comes into law. The government wants the new rules in place before cannabis is legalized for recreational use, a move expected in late summer.
According to experts, Bill C-46 sets limits for levels of THC, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis, that do not determine whether a driver is impaired or not. Cannabis acts differently on the body from alcohol, and there is no exact link between driving abilities and THC levels, as measured in nanograms per millimetre (ng) of blood.
The “per se” limits for alcohol (80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood) have been upheld in court, but the limits for cannabis have not been tested in court. Some frequent users have constant levels of THC and are not actively impaired, while others may be impaired with low levels of THC.
“As toxicologists, we’re not big on ‘per se’ numbers for drugs because drugs are very different from alcohol on how they impair people, the tolerance and the wide spectrum of tolerance that exists between different individuals,” D’Arcy Smith, a member of the RCMP’s drug evaluation and classification program, told senators last month.
Amy Peaire, who chairs the drugs and driving committee at the Canadian Society of Forensic Science, added impairment depends on a variety of factors, including whether cannabis was smoked or eaten. Cannabis is fat soluble, which means blood concentration levels vary between individuals.
“Unlike alcohol in which you can have blood concentrations which have links to impairment, that’s not the same for THC because there’s not a good correlation between impairment and blood concentration,” said Ms. Peaire.
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has defended her government’s approach, stating it relied on scientific evidence, including the work of Mr. Smith and Ms. Peaire.
“We’re moving forward on the drug levels that we have in C-46. The levels have been set and based in large part on the advice provided to us by the drugs and driving committee. The science around drug levels is something that continues to evolve and we’ll continue to engage with the committee,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould told reporters.
Under Bill C-46, three new offences would be created:
- Having a THC level between 2 and 5 ng, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000;
- Having a level above 5 ng, punishable by a fine of $1,000 for a first offence and escalating penalties for repeat offenders;
- Having a blood alcohol concentration of 50 milligrams per 100 mL of blood in addition to a THC level superior to 2.5 ng, with the same penalties as the previous offence.
Ms. Wilson-Raybould said the best way to prevent drug-impaired driving is simply to stay off the road after consuming cannabis.
“Until we have definitive scientific evidence around what is a safe level, we’re proceeding on a precautionary basis, saying there is no safe level,” Ms. Wilson-Raybould said.
But lawyers warned the government the new regime will be hard to enforce, with legal challenges guaranteed to clog up Canadian courts already beset by delays.
“The [Canadian Bar Association] does not view Bill C-46 as offering any significant improvement over the existing legislation, certainly not one that would offset its negative impact on justice efficiencies,” spokeswoman Kathryn Pentz told senators.
Ms. Pentz added the new law is bound to be challenged in court and that prosecutors will be hard-pressed to defend the measures.
“It has to be evidence-based. At this point and time, the experts are saying we really cannot get a correlation between a level of drugs in one’s system and a level of impairment,” she said.
Conservative Senator Claude Carignan has expressed serious reservations about Bill C-46, saying the best way to determine whether drivers are impaired is through certified drug recognition experts (DRE). However, the process to become a DRE is long and mostly requires training in the United States, leaving Canada with a shortage with only a few months to go before legalization.
“The solution will be to present an amendment to Bill C-46 to suspend the application of the ‘per se’ limits up until the moment that scientific evidence backs up their use, and to rely solely on DREs in the meantime,” Mr. Carignan said.
Kyla Lee, a Vancouver-based defence lawyer, said the law would be more likely to withstand a constitutional challenge if DREs were used in every case before charges are laid.
“I believe it would be more likely to withstand Charter scrutiny,” she told senators.
CANNABIS USE AND DRIVING
- Rielle Capler, MHA Ph.D. – Candidate, University of British Columbia
- Dan Bilsker, Ph.D. – Clinical Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
- Kelsey Van Pelt, BSc MPH – Candidate, Simon Fraser University
- Donald MacPherson Executive Director, Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University
Download PDF – Click Here
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.”
“Our study suggests that, on average, MMLs are associated with reductions in traffic fatalities, particularly pronounced among those aged 25 to 44 years, a group representing a great percentage of all registered patients for medical marijuana use,29 and with increased prevalence of marijuana use after the enactment of MMLs.30 Although increases in marijuana use following the establishment of marijuana dispensaries could reduce the occurrence of alcohol-related mortality by reducing the number of drivers driving under the influence of alcohol, other simultaneous factors at the state and local levels also may be responsible for these changes in traffic fatalities. Our findings show great heterogeneity of the MML–traffic fatalities associations across states, suggesting the presence of these other mechanisms. This is important for policy development and for the debate of the enactment or repealing of MMLs, given that alternative local strategies such as stronger police enforcement and programs aiming to reduce impaired driving involving any substance use could be local factors linked to reductions in traffic fatalities in MML states.”
Julian Santaella-Tenorio, Christine M. Mauro, Melanie M. Wall, June H. Kim, Magdalena Cerdá, Katherine M. Keyes, Deborah S. Hasin, Sandro Galea, and Silvia S. Martins. US Traffic Fatalities, 1985–2014, and Their Relationship to Medical Marijuana Laws. American Journal of Public Health: February 2017, Vol. 107, No. 2, pp. 336-342. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303577
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Crash Fatality Rates After Recreational Marijuana Legalization in Washington and Colorado
Published Online: July 12, 2017
Objectives. To evaluate motor vehicle crash fatality rates in the first 2 states with recreational marijuana legalization and compare them with motor vehicle crash fatality rates in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.
Methods. We used the US Fatality Analysis Reporting System to determine the annual numbers of motor vehicle crash fatalities between 2009 and 2015 in Washington, Colorado, and 8 control states. We compared year-over-year changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates (per billion vehicle miles traveled) before and after recreational marijuana legalization with a difference-in-differences approach that controlled for underlying time trends and state-specific population, economic, and traffic characteristics.
Results. Pre–recreational marijuana legalization annual changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were similar to those for the control states. Post–recreational marijuana legalization changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado also did not significantly differ from those for the control states (adjusted difference-in-differences coefficient = +0.2 fatalities/billion vehicle miles traveled; 95% confidence interval = −0.4, +0.9).
Conclusions. Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization. Future studies over a longer time remain warranted.
For more information follow LINK … Recreational Marijuana Legalization Driving
MEDICAL CANNABIS AND IMPAIRED DRIVING: A PRELIMINARY REPORT
WATERLOO, ON, JUNE 27, 2017 – Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM), a national non-profit organization, released a first-of-its-kind preliminary research review on medical cannabis impaired driving – one of the major public safety concerns stemming from the legalization of non-medical cannabis.
The review situates the use of cannabis for medical purposes among research related to policy, prevalence, and risk of cannabis/THC impaired driving. The 200,000 legally authorized Canadians who are prescribed medical cannabis have important and distinct characteristics including dosing, strains, tolerance, methods of administration, and education received by their prescribing physicians. These factors, explored in the review, set medical cannabis patients apart from non-medical consumers and demonstrate this to be a key area left unexplored in previous impaired driving literature.
This preliminary review offers insight into how cannabis used for medical purposes relates to impaired driving, including the following topics:
While CFAMM is fully against impaired driving and supports responsible driving legislation, the term “impairment” is widely used but is not always clearly defined. When speaking of impairment, crucial to this dialogue is speaking to actualimpairment of cognitive, psychomotor, and other functions necessary to safely drive – not simply a measure of previous use such as the presence of THC in blood. Unlike blood alcohol concentration, which is scientifically linked to levels of impairment, matching levels of impairment to levels of THC in one’s system is still widely debated and has not been studied related to medical cannabis use.
RISK OF MEDICAL CANNABIS IMPAIRED DRIVING
Although many studies have explored the risk of recreational or occasional use of cannabis related to driving impairment, few have studied the risk related to responsible medical use of cannabis. For most patients, the goal of medical cannabis use is not to experience its psychoactive effects, but rather to treat or manage symptoms of an illness using the smallest effective dose. Although it’s a limited example, a past study on the medical use of cannabis (Sativex) for multiple sclerosis identified better driving safety measures after the introduction of cannabis in patients’ treatment regimens, suggesting a need for further research on medical users. It is also important to note that U.S. states have recorded an 8-11% drop in overall traffic fatalities one year following the introduction of medical cannabis legislation.
DISTINCTIVE NATURE OF MEDICAL CANNABIS USE
Many medically authorized Canadians use cannabis daily or near daily to manage symptoms associated with their illness and are expected to follow advice from health care providers. This includes safe-use guidelines, such as waiting 4+ hours after consumption before driving, to help eliminate risk of potential impairment. The metabolism and effects of THC are highly variable from person-to-person and THC can remain detectable within a regular user’s blood for days after last consumption. The government’s proposal, which would set a per se cut-off of 2ng/ml THC at the lower end, means even when patients are not impaired, they would have to stop using their medicine for 3-7+ days before driving.
“Although driving is not a right but a privilege, patients who use cannabis responsibly and are not impaired should still be able to drive without risk or fear of being charged. It is necessary for the government to incentivize further research and include considerations for patients using cannabis. While a strict precautionary approach may be appropriate in light of limited evidence, policymakers have a responsibility to both safeguard road safety and balance the rights of medical cannabis patients to ensure they are not unfairly criminalized by drugged driving laws that do not target impairment.”
– Jonathan Zaid, Lead Author and Executive Director, CFAMM
CFAMM – Click Here
Should Canadian lawmakers reconsider the amount of THC a driver can have in their bloodstream before legalizing cannabis in 2018?
Now here’s a study Canadian lawmakers should read as they consider Bill C46, which seeks to amend the Criminal Code with respect to drug-impaired driving.
A study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health has found that states with legalized recreational cannabis do not have a greater rate of car accident deaths than states where cannabis is illegal.
Conducted by doctors and researchers from the University of Texas-Austin and Rice University, the study compared car accident fatalities in Colorado and Washington, where cannabis is legal, to similar data from eight control states where the drug is still prohibited.
Researchers used a federal fatality reporting system to determine the annual number of fatalities from motor vehicle accidents over six years, between 2009 and 2015, in the 10 states.
By comparing year-over-year changes, they found that the number of fatalities did not increase after recreational cannabis was legalized in Colorado and Washington, and was consistent with the number of deaths in the eight control states.
“This is the first time researchers have actually looked at the real-life effects to see if there have been any major population changes in injuries on the road after marijuana was legalized in these states,” lead study author Jayson Aydelotte told KTVU News in Austin last month.
In both Colorado and Washington, drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) per millilitre in their bloodstream can be prosecuted for driving under the influence. Some marijuana lobbyists claim this is far too low, as frequent cannabis users can have residual amounts of THC in their bloodstream well above five nanograms—and for days after consumption.
Others argue the amount is too high, especially because the numbers determined are based on policy, instead of evidence of impairment.
Bill C46 currently outlines a limit of just two nanograms of THC per millilitre.
To put that in context, Canadian Olympian Ross Rebagliati won the gold medal for snowboarding in 1998 with more than eight times than what the federal government has suggested, at 17.8 nanograms per millilitre.
Story from the Straight … Cannabis and Driving
Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers Than Non-Marijuana Users, New Study Shows
A new study released by United States auto insurance quote provider 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com shows that statistically speaking, marijuana users are safer drivers than non-marijuana users.
NEW YORK (PRWEB) APRIL 06, 2012
In a recent study, 4AutoinsuranceQuote.com, a national quote provider for online car insurance quotes, cites a strong correlation between traffic-related accidents and marijuana use. The study, which looks at statistics regarding accidents, traffic violations, and insurance prices, seeks to dispel the thought that “driving while stoned” is dangerous.
In the study, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com points out that the only significant effect that marijuana has on operating a motor vehicle is slower driving. 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com says, while referencing a study by the US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), that driving slower “is arguably a positive thing” and that driving under the influence of marijuana “might even make you a safer driver.” A similar study by the NHTSA shows that drivers with THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) in their system have accident responsibility rates below that of drug free drivers.
In fact, a recent study shows that use of medical marijuana has caused traffic related fatalities to drop by up to nine percent in states that have legalized its use. This study, titled “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption”, conducted by Mark Anderson and Daniel Rees in November 2011, shows that increased marijuana use amongst adults has decreased alcohol related traffic deaths in said states. This study provides solid evidence that marijuana is not only a safe substitute for alcohol, but it also makes for more safer drivers.
“Marijuana users often say that when they are high, they feel like they are driving 80 miles per hour but actually are only going 30 miles per hour,” 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com CEO James Shaffer says, “when somebody is drunk driving, on the other hand, they often feel like they are driving 30 miles per hour but are actually driving 80 miles per hour. This is what makes alcohol dangerous behind the wheel, and marijuana safe.”
As an auto insurance quote provider, 4autoinsurancequote.com says that marijuana use can also have an indirect effect on insurance rates. Because of the correlation between marijuana use and accident responsibility rates, they say, marijuana users, as a whole, can expect to see lower insurance rates than non-marijuana users.
“The hypocrisy of it all is that if you get caught driving under the influence of marijuana, you will be fined and perhaps thrown into jail. Whats worse is that your insurance rates will definitely increase due to the traffic violation,” says Mr. Shaffer, “What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity. I guess the key to safer driving is to use marijuana, but to do it under-wraps.”
4AutoInsuranceQuote.com is an auto insurance quote provider operating out of Manhattan, NY. In business since 2008, they offer free insurance quotes online to United States users. In addition, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com releases reports and studies on the automobile and insurance industries.
Reasons Why Marijuana Users Are Safe Drivers
Driving while intoxicated is a well known way to cause an accident on the road. Although not as common, you can be charged with that offense for more than just drinking alcohol. It also includes anything else that causes impairment, such as drugs (whether they are legal ones or not), including marijuana.
However, 20 years of study has concluded that marijuana smokers may actually be getting a bad rap and that they may actually have fewer accidents than other drivers. There have been several studies done over the past 20 years and every one of them has revealed that using marijuana actually has a very minor, if any, effect on the ability of a person to drive a car or other vehicle.
Marijuana, Alcohol users Use Products Differently
Research studies showed that if a comparison was done between how drivers who had been drinking alcohol and those who had been using marijuana, it showed that the pot users were in fewer crashes.
Why is this so?
Researchers believe it is because of the way people consume the two products, as alcohol drinkers usually do their drinking out in public and then try to drive home, while pot smokers usually smoke at home and don’t try to drive, meaning fewer are involved in driving accidents in the first place.
Research also shows that while drunk drivers usually drive faster and don’t understand that their driving skills are messed up, the drivers that have been smoking marijuana actually tend to drive slower and stay away from risky behavior.
These and other tests on marijuana smoking and driving were done in different places all over the world, including Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, the United States, and the UK with the following results:
Results of Major Studies on Marijuana and Driving
The research that has been done on this phenomenon of marijuana smoking and driving has shown some interesting results:
Research studies in the Netherlands at the Dutch Institute for Road Safety Research that drivers with blood alcohol rates of .5 percent up to .8 percent had accidents five times more than other drivers, and if it was higher amounts of alcohol, the results were accidents happening up to 15 times more often. But, the marijuana smokers actually showed these drivers posed NO risk at all!
Top 10 Reasons Marijuana Users Are Safer Drivers
When you combine all of the main results of these two decades worth of scientific research studies, the following 10 reasons marijuana drivers are safer than drunk drivers comes out like this:
1. Drivers who had been using marijuana were found to drive slower, according to a 1983 study done by U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). This was seen as a factor in their favour, since drivers who drank alcohol usually drove faster and that is part of the reason they had accidents.
2. Marijuana users were able to drive straight and not have any trouble staying in their own lanes when driving on the highway, according to a NHTSA done in 1993 in the Netherlands. The study determined also that the use of marijuana had very little affect on the person’s overall driving ability.
3. Drivers who had smoked marijuana were shown to be less likely to try to pass other cars and to drive at a consistent speed, according to a University of Adelaide study done in Australia. The study showed no danger unless the drivers had also been drinking alcohol.
4. Drivers high on marijuana were also shown to be less likely to drive in a reckless fashion, according to a study done in 2000 in the UK by the UK Transport Research Lab. The study was done using driver on driving simulators over a period of a month and was actually undertaken to show that pot was a cause for impairment, but instead it showed the opposite and confirmed that these drivers were actually much safer than some of the other drivers on the road.
5. States that allow the legal use of marijuana for medical reasons are noticing less traffic fatalities; for instance, in Colorado and Montana there has been a nine percent drop in traffic fatalities and a five percent drop in beer sales.
The conclusion was that using marijuana actually has helped save lives! Medical marijuana is allowed in 16 states in the U.S.
6. Low doses of marijuana in a person’s system was found by tests in Canada in 2002 to have little effect on a person’s ability to drive a car, and that these drivers were in much fewer car crashes than alcohol drinkers.
7. Most marijuana smokers have fewer crashes because they don’t even drive in the first place and just stay home thus concluded more than one of these tests on pot smoking and driving.
8. Marijuana smokers are thought to be more sober drivers. Traffic information from 13 states where medical marijuana is legal showed that these drivers were actually safer and more careful than many other drivers on the road.
These studies were confirmed by the University of Colorado and the Montana State University when they compared a relationship between legal marijuana use and deaths in traffic accidents in those states. The studies done by a group called the Truth About Cars showed that traffic deaths fell nine percent in states with legal use of medical marijuana.
9. Multiple studies showed that marijuana smokers were less likely to be risk takers than those that use alcohol. The studies showed that the marijuana calmed them down and made them actually pay more attention to their abilities.All of these tests and research studies showed that while some people think that marijuana is a major cause of traffic problems, in reality it may make the users even safer when they get behind the wheel!
10. Marijuana smoking drivers were shown to drive at prescribed following distances, which made them less likely to cause or have crashes.
Every test seemed to come up with these same results in all of the countries they were done in. Even so, insurance companies will still penalize any driver in an accident that has been shown to have been smoking pot, so this doesn’t give drivers free reign to smoke pot and drive.
So, the bottom line is that while alcohol has been shown in every single incident to have major problems and to have caused countless traffic crashes and fatalities, pot smoking overall has had none of these issues and in fact may make drivers pay more attention, drive slower and straighter and perhaps even stay home so they can’t be in an accident at all!
UI studies impact of marijuana on driving
A new study conducted at the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) has found drivers who use alcohol and marijuana together weave more on a virtual roadway than drivers who use either substance independently. However, the cocktail of alcohol and marijuana does not double the effect of the impairment.
“What we saw was an additive effect, not a synergistic effect, when we put them together,” says Tim Brown, associate research scientist at NADS and co-author of the study. “You get what you expect if you take alcohol and cannabis and merge them together.”
The study, which was published June 23 in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, also found that participants who consumed only alcohol weaved more during a 35- to 45-minute simulated driving test than those who consumed only vaporized cannabis. Gary Gaffney, associate professor of psychiatry in the UI Carver College of Medicine, is the study’s principal investigator. It’s co-principal investigators are Brown and Gary Milavetz, associate professor and head of the division of Applied Clinical Sciences in the College of Pharmacy.
The results are part of a larger study—the first of its kind to analyze the effects of inhaled cannabis on driving performance—sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The UI was selected for the research because of the NADS authenticity to real driving and the universitys expertise in medicine, pharmacy, and engineering. The NADS is the only simulator of its kind that is publicly owned.
The outcomes could help shape future legislation in the United States where some experts say policies on drugged driving are woefully behind.
To date, medical marijuana is legal in 23 states and the District of Columbia while marijuana has been approved for recreational use in four states and D.C. Since legalizing medical marijuana, Colorado has reported an increase in driving under the influence of cannabis cases and fatal motor vehicle crashes with cannabis-only positive drivers while states without legalized marijuana have experienced no significant change in cannabis-related crashes.
In 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers found the number of drivers with alcohol in their system had declined by nearly one-third since 2007. However, that same survey found the number of weekend nighttime drivers with evidence of drugs in their system climbed from 16.3 percent in 2007 to 20 percent in 2014. The number of drivers with marijuana in their system grew by nearly 50 percent.
Brown says plenty of research has been done on the effects of drinking alcohol and driving, but little has been done to measure the effects of using marijuana and driving.
“Alcohol is the most common drug present in the system in roadside stops by police; cannabis is the next most common, and cannabis is often paired with alcohol below the legal limits,” Brown says. “So the questions are: Is alcohol an issue? Is cannabis an issue? We know alcohol is an issue, but is cannabis an issue or is cannabis an issue when paired with alcohol? We tried to find out.”
Researchers selected 18 participants—13 men and five women—between the ages of 21 and 37 who reported drinking alcohol and using marijuana no more than three times a week. After spending the night at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics to ensure sobriety, participants arrived at NADS for six “dosing visits.”
First, participants were given 10 minutes to drink a mixed drink with alcohol or plain juice in an alcohol-rimmed glass and topped with alcohol to mimic alcohol taste and odor. The idea was to get the participants blood alcohol level to about .065 percent at the start of the simulated drive.
Next, they were given 10 minutes to inhale a placebo or vaporized cannabis using a vaporizing system designed in Germany called “Volcano Medic ™.”
A comparison of lane weaving observed in a simulated driving study between common legal drunk driving limits (BrAC) and the blood concentration of THC that produce a similar amount of lane weaving.
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.
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 isnt as simple due to THCs metabolic and chemical properties.”
Additional authors on the study include Rebecca L. Hartman (lead author), National Institute on Drug Abuse; Milavetz; Spurgin; Russell S. Pierce, VariableSolutions, USA; David A. Gorelick, National Institute on Drug Abuse; Gaffney; and Marilyn A. Huestis (corresponding author), National Institute on Drug Abuse.
New Accident Studies Confirm:
Marijuana a Lesser Driving Hazard Than Alcohol
Drivers Testing Positive in Urine No More Dangerous Than Drug-Free Drivers
Drivers who test positive for marijuana in urine are no more likely to cause accidents than drug-free drivers, according to a study led by Dr. Carl Soderstrom  at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (2005). The study examined 2,405 drivers hospitalized in automobile accidents from 1997 through 2001.
The study investigated the circumstances of each accident to assess which drivers were at fault or culpable. Drivers testing positive for marijuana were found to have no greater culpability than drug-free drivers. In every age group, alcohol was the drug most strongly associated with crash culpability. Cocaine users also showed higher crash culpability, especially in the age range of 21-40.
Significantly, marijuana-using drivers aged 41 to 60 were statistically less likely to be at fault for accidents than drug-free drivers. Similar results have been suggested in other studies, perhaps because marijuana-using drivers tend to slow down.
This flatly refutes the rationale for random testing of truck and bus drivers, observed California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer, Urine tests for marijuana donπt reflect driving impairment. Two other studies  have failed to find higher accident rates for drivers testing positive for marijuana in urine.
An essential reason for these negative results is the reliance on urine tests to detect marijuana. Urine tests are poor indicators of impairment because they detect non-psychoactive metabolites that stay in the system for days after marijuana is smoked. Blood tests, which measure the presence of psychoactive THC, provide a better indication of current impairment. Usually they register positive for only a few hours after smoking, though low levels of blood THC may persist in heavy users for a day or two. Some though not all studies have found higher accident rates for drivers testing positive for THC in blood.
In another new accident study  the largest yet French researchers examined 10,748 drivers involved in fatal crashes for traces of drugs and alcohol in blood. The study found that the presence of THC in blood was associated with a somewhat higher risk of responsibility for accidents, but significantly less so than alcohol. The increased risk for THC was dose-dependent, ranging from 1.6 at trace levels to 3 at the highest levels (above 5 nanograms THC per milliliter of blood). In contrast, for alcohol the risk ranged from 3 at the lowest levels (below .05% blood alcohol) to over 40 at the highest levels. The study has proved embarrassing for drug warriors in the French government, who had prematurely rushed to pass a ≥zero tolerance≤ DUI law barring any blood traces of THC before the study was complete. The study showed that driving with THC in blood was in fact no riskier than driving at blood alcohol levels below .05%, which is legally permitted in France. The U.S. allows alcohol levels up to .08%.
Numerous other studies have found that marijuana is a significantly lesser driving hazard than alcohol. Current scientific evidence shows clearly that a zero tolerance standard for THC in blood is unjustified, argues California NORML coordinator Dale Gieringer. An expert panel report chaired by Dr. Franjo Grotenhermen  of the International Association for Cannabis Medicine concluded that levels above 3.5 to 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in blood are generally indicative of impairment. On the other hand, there is considerable evidence indicating that lower levels of blood THC can be consistent with safe driving.
(1 ) Carl Soderstrom et al, ≥Crash Culpability Relative to Age and Sex for Injured Drivers Using Alcohol, Marijuana or Cocaine,≤ 49th Annual Proceedings of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, Sept. 13-14, 2005.
(2) SR Lowenstein and J Koziol-McLain Drugs and traffic crash responsibility: a study of injured motorists in Colorado, J Trauma 50(2):313-30 (2001); and KLL Movig et al, Psychoactive substance use and the risk of motor vehicle accidents [in the Netherlands], Accident Analysis and Prevention 36: 631-6 (2004).
(3) Bernard Laumon et al, ≥Cannabis Intoxication and fatal road crashes in France: population based case-control study,≤ British Medical Journal doi:10.1136/bmj.38648.617986.1F, Dec. 2, 2005.
(4) Franjo Grotenhermen et al., ≥Developing Science-Based Per Se Limits for Driving under the Influence of Cannabis: Findings and Recommendations by an Expert Panel,≤ (International Association for Cannabis Medicine, 2005) posted at www.canorml.org/healthfacts/DUICreport.2005.pdf.
NORML Questions Tactics Behind Feds Latest
Drugged Driving Campaign*
Organization Reiterates Stance Against Driving While Impaired By Cannabis
*Washington, DC: Recent allegations by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) that cannabis is a significant causal factor in on-road accidents and may adversely impact psychomotor skills up to 24 hours after past use are not supported by scientific evidence, said NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre.*
His remarks were in response to a White_House_Campaign launched earlier this week, entitled Steer Clear of Pot.
*While acute cannabis intoxication has been shown to have demonstrable impact on psychomotor performance, these effects are typically mild and short-lived lasting at most one to three hours, and certainly not 24 hours, as claimed by the ONDCP. Moreover, unlike with alcohol, the accident risk caused by cannabis particularly among those who are not acutely intoxicated is often limited because subjects under its influence are generally aware of their impairment and compensate to some extent, such as by slowing down and by focusing their attention when they know a response will be required. This response is the opposite of that exhibited by drivers under the influence of alcohol, who tend to drive in a more risky manner proportional to their intoxication.*
According to an analysis of on-road crashes released in September by an international expert panel: The most meaningful recent culpability studies indicate that drivers with THC concentrations in whole blood of less than 5 ng/ml have a crash risk no higher than that of drug-free users. THC blood levels typically fall below 5 ng/ml in recreational cannabis users within 60 to 90 minutes after inhalation.
*Nevertheless, St. Pierre reaffirmed NORMLs_Stance that operating a motor vehicle under the influence of any controlled substance is unacceptable. Responsible cannabis consumers never operate a motor vehicle in an impaired condition, regardless of whether that impairment is due to alcohol, cannabis or some other intoxicant or prescription medication, he said. Public safety demands not only that impaired drivers be taken off the road, but that better objective measures of impairment be developed to more accurately identify drivers under the influence of drugs.*
For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Paul Armentano, NORML Senior Policy Analyst, at (202) 483-5500. A comprehensive review of cannabis impact on driving appears in NORMLs report, You Are Going Directly to Jail: DUID Legislation: What It Means, Whos Behind It, and Strategies to Prevent It, available online at:
NORML Questions Tactics Behind Feds Latest Drugged Driving Campaign http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread21342.shtml
cannabisnews November 30, 2005
*Ganja & Driving
NORMLs Weekly News Bulletin September 29, 2005*
Positive Marijuana Result Not Associated With Auto Crash Culpability
September 29, 2005 Baltimore, MD, USA
*Marijuana use, as indicated by the presence of cannabis metabolites, is not associated with crash culpability among injured drivers, according to data presented at the annual conference of the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.*
Read More Cannabisnews.com
U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(DOT HS 808 078), Final Report, November 1993:
*THCs adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small*
*While it is widely accepted that cannabis use can slow motor skills and reduce task-attention, increasing in severity with dose, research has shown that cannabis use is less likely to dangerously impair driving abilities than alcohol at similar levels of intoxication. Cannabis intoxication often makes smokers more aware of their impairment, causing them to slow down and become more cautious while also worsening reaction time and attention. Cannabis users often report that driving speeds are experientially faster than normal: driving a given speed feels faster and more dangerous than the same speed does while sober.*
There have been a number of studies which have looked at this issue and most have found that cannabis smoking does degrade driving performance. There is a little contradictory evidence about whether cannabis in combination with alcohol causes worse impairment than alcohol alone, but so far the data heavily favors the view that the combination substantially increases risks over either alone.
*The research so far does not provide a clear answer to how much risk of accidents increase with moderate levels of cannabis intoxication, but only confirms that the risks of cannabis-alone impairment are lower than those of alcohol-alone impairment. The following are a collection of summaries & papers which look at the issue of cannabis & driving performance.*
*Executive Summary of Driving Impairment Effects of Alcohol & Cannabis* (1994)
Alcohol impairs driving more than marijuana New Scientist March 2002
*As someone who spent 35 years wearing a police uniform, Ive come to believe that hundreds of thousands of law-enforcement officers commit felony perjury every year testifying about drug arrests.*
Joseph McNamara, former San Jose Chief of Police
Cannabisnews Search alcohol
Alcohol impairs driving more than marijuana http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn2063
*A single glass of wine will impair your driving more than smoking a joint. And under certain test conditions, the complex way alcohol and cannabis combine to affect driving behaviour suggests that someone who has taken both may drive less recklessly than a person who is simply drunk.*
New Scientist March 2002
MARIJUANA DOES NOT CAUSE RECKLESS DRIVING
*The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and certain Wisconsin legislators have launched a new crusade against drugged driving, with a heavy emphasis on marijuana. This crusade is largely based on scientific misinformation, and it could lead to the enactment of bad laws.*
*US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Reports*
Marijuana Use And Driving
by Robbe 1994
Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance
by Robbe, NHTSA, 1999
*Drivers under the influence of marijuana retain insight in their performance and will compensate where they can, for example, by slowing down or increasing effort. As a consequence, THCs adverse effects on driving performance appear relatively small.*
Robbe, NHTSA 1993
Cannabis And Road Safety: An Outline Of The Research Studies To Examine The Effects Of Cannabis On Driving Skills And On Actual Driving Performance
*Professor Hall considers cannabiss contribution to danger on the roads to be very small; in his view the major effect of cannabis use on driving may be in amplifying the impairments caused by alcohol.*
UK Lords Report, 1998
Crancer Study, Washington Department of Motor Vehicles
*Simulated driving scores for subjects experiencing a normal social high and
the same subjects under control conditions are not significantly different. However,
there are significantly more errors for alcohol intoxicated than for control subjects*
*ONDCP has several slick television commercials on the subject. One shows dramatic auto accidents and two crash test dummies passing a joint while a serious voice says, In a recent study, one in three reckless drivers tested positive for marijuana. Note the careful phrasing. The idea is to make viewers think that marijuana caused the reckless driving, without really saying that it did.*
Australia: Study Goes to Pot (1998)
Marijuana Not A Factor In Driving University Of Toronto Study (1999)
*We didnt choose to fight this drug war, it chose us.
Now we have to do whatever it takes to fight this evil and change this system.
No more shattered lives!*
Chris Conrad, author Shattered Lives
Marijuana Not a Factor in Driving Accidents
March 29, 1999
*The safety hazards of smoking marijuana and driving are overrated, says U of T researcher Alison Smiley.
Recent research into impairment and traffic accident reports from several countries shows that marijuana taken alone in moderate amounts does not significantly increase a drivers risk of causing an accident unlike alcohol, says Smiley, an adjunct professor in the department of mechanical and industrial engineering . While smoking marijuana does impair driving ability, it does not share alcohols effect on judgment. Drivers on marijuana remain aware of their impairment, prompting them to slow down and drive more cautiously to compensate, she says.*
harsh anti-pot driving laws are becoming commonplace.
*Corruptisma repulica, plurimae leges.
(The more corrupt a republic, the more laws.)*
Tacitus, Annals III 27
*The American Medical Association knows of no evidence that marihuana is a dangerous drug.*
Dr. William Woodward of the American Medical Association, in hearings on the 1921 Marihuana Tax Act
*We can have justice whenever those who have not been injured by injustice
are as outraged by it as those who have been.*
Solon (594 B.C.)
*DUI-DWI Convictions Can Happen to Anyone, Even Our Leaders*
By age 40, about 20% of all males in the USA have received a DUI conviction. Of course, some men have received MORE than their allotted share, such as Vice President Richard (Dick) Cheney. Here are copies of President Bush’s 1976 DUI in Maine, followed by Cheney’s DUI records of two back-to-back DUIs in Wyoming.
*Canada Would Ban Bush — But There Are Loopholes* By Rebecca Cooper (ABC News)
W A S H I N G T O N, Nov. 3 — Even if George W. Bush is elected president, he may need special permission to get into Canada because of his arrest for drunken driving.
BUSHS BOOZE CRISIS
By JENNIFER LUCE and DON GENTILE
*Faced with the biggest crisis of his political life, President Bush has hit the bottle again, The National Enquirer can reveal. Bush, who said he quit drinking the morning after his 40th birthday, has started boozing amid the Katrina catastrophe. Family sources have told how the 59-year-old president was caught by First Lady Laura downing a shot of booze at their family ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he learned of the hurricane disaster.*
Bushwhacked: Jenna Bushs drinking incident
*The presidents twin daughters have been caught trying to buy beer using fake ID. But, asks Katie Roiphe, whats all the fuss about? Theyre just teenagers bringing a touch of colour to the White House*
DOT HS 808 078 Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance
*Final Report, Nov. 1993 Conclusions on page 108 of the copy I received from the NHTSA are interesting and informative. A sample : It is possible to safely study the effects of marijuana on driving on highways or city streets in the presence of other traffic. Drivers under the influence of marijuana tend to over-estimate the adverse effects of the drug on their driving ability and compensate when they can; e.g. by increasing effort to accomplish the task, increasing headway or slowing down, or a combination of these.*
DOT HS 808 939 Marijuana, Alcohol and Actual Driving Performance July 1999 Conclusion on page 39 midway of paragraph 5.1 of the copy I received: The addition of the new data, (for marijuana), broadens the range of reactions that may be expected to occur in real life. This range has not been shown to extend into the area that can rightfully be regarded as dangerous or an obviously unacceptable threat to public safety. DOT HS 809 020 Visual Search and Urban City Driving under the Influence of Marijuana and Alcohol March 2000: Conclusion 1 on page 24 of the copy I received. Low doses of marijuana taken alone, did not impair city driving performance and did not diminish visual search frequency for traffic at intersections in this study.
*General Discussion on page 22 . Previous on-the-road studies have also demonstrated that subjects are generally aware of the impairing properties of THC and try to compensate for the drugs impairing properties by driving more carefully (Hansteen et al, 1976; Casswell, 1979; Peck et al, 1986; Robbe 1994)*.
DOT HS 809 642 State of Knowledge of Drug Impaired Driving Sept 2003: Experimental Research of Cannabis, page 41 midway: The extensive studies by Robbe and OHanlon (1993), revealed that under the influence of Marijuana, drivers are aware of their impairment, and when experimental tasks allow it, they tend to actually decrease speed, avoid passing other cars, and reduce other risk-taking behaviors.
*DOT HS 808 065 The Incidence and Role of Drugs in Fatally Injured Drivers Oct. 1992 In discussing the Distribution of Ratings on Driver Responsibility Table 5.12 page 64 of the copy I received, paragraph (p.65); Responsibility, drugs and alcohol, third paragraph, the following appears: Note that the responsibility rates of the THC-only and Cocaine-only groups are actually lower than that of the drugfree drivers. Although these results too are inconclusive, they give no suggestion of impairment in the two groups. The low responsibility rate for THC was reminiscent of that found in young males by Williams and colleagues (1986).” This study is remarkable in its propensity to attack itself as inconclusive.*
Forensic Science Review Vol. 14, Number One/Two, Jan 2002, surely must be the reference of note regarding metabolic functions and where the THC goes following ingestion. This review discuses THC and its metabolites; THCCOOH, 11-OH-THC to mention the most discussed. Location and type of measured quantities of these and other metabolites should be easy to use to determine if a driver is stoned or was stoned yesterday, or last week. Mention was made of a man who had measurable levels of metabolites sixty-seven days after ingesting Cannabis.
*Chap IX paragraph D, Summary appears to be of two minds. While stating: Studies examining Cannabis causal effect through responsibility analysis have more frequently indicated that THC alone did not increase accident risk … it continues optimistically suggesting that further exhaustive research may rebut that. All of the studies agree that combining Cannabis with any other drug, such as Alcohol a major deleterious effect on driving skills, as is benzoates with Cannabis … it rapidly becomes evident that Cannabis in combination with any number of other drugs is not to be desired, but that Cannabis and Cocaine alone in all six studies have the smallest perceived safety risk of all the drugs and drug combinations tested and against drug-free drivers.*