The other day we spoke about Colorado’s drugged driving blood test. Here’s some information on the science we are working with. “Colorado voters will decide this November whether marijuana should be legalized. If it passes then marijuana would be regulated the same way as alcohol.
“But right now there is no standard to determine if you’re too stoned to drive while under the influence of pot. State lawmakers have proposed limits to set a standard but many argue those tests wouldn’t be accurate enough to determine impairment. On Tuesday the state legislature killed the most recent proposal to set a marijuana impairment standard for drivers out here on Colorado’s roads. But there’s no doubt it will come up again next session.
“Will someone using marijuana put themselves–or you–in danger out on the road? We wanted to find out for ourselves. So we setup a test using a simulator, police officer (Ashby), science guy (Knill), and a group of volunteers. Ranging in age from their early 20s to their mid 60s, our volunteers let us test not only their driving skills but their THC levels both before and after taking their marijuana. [Research!]
Just this past week Colorado lawmakers narrowly voted down a new law that would have made it illegal for a person to drive with a specific THC level known as “Delta 9 concentration.” If passed, any Colorado driver would be considered impaired if they had more than 5 nanograms per milliliter of marijuana in their blood. [This is the law we looked at the other day]
But before we even started our driving test, a surprise–we found at least two of our volunteers would be considered impaired, under the recently proposed state standard, even though they hadn’t smoked or ingested marijuana all day.
23-year-old Max was eager to try our test and, even though he had not smoked his medical marijuana all day, the blood test shows he’s already above 5ng/ml limit. Our blood test shows Max may have already been considered impaired before he lit up; his first blood test came back at 6 nanograms – one above the previously proposed limit. But after smoking for us, that number increases five-fold to 32 nanograms.
For experienced drivers, like 63-year-old Fran of Littleton, driving after taking her marijuana is a challenge. “At least it is make believe crashes,” she says. “She showed a lot of mental impairment,” Ashby says. “Not really just a physical impairment; she was stopping for no reason in the roadway.”But the results of Fran’s blood test are shocking. “She would have passed that test for Delta 9 because nothing showed up in her system,” Knill says. That’s right; Fran’s blood test comes back clean. The results show there’s no Delta 9 in her system even though she ingested her pot an hour before the test.She says she wouldn’t trust herself behind the wheel either on the simulator or the real world.
61-year-old Robert says he won’t drive right after smoking. After the test, Robert says with the marijuana in his system, he shouldn’t be allowed in the driver seat. “I’m not used to driving when I have a buzz on, and I don`t do that personally. I wouldn`t have driven knowing I could wait an hour,” Robert says. Before smoking marijuana, Robert showed 1.9 nanograms of delta-9 in his system. But afterward that number jumps way up to 10 nanograms—that’s double the limit lawmakers were considering.
None of the volunteers put much faith in the simulator but can you put faith in the Delta-9 law when two people who admit they’re under the influence would pass with flying colors? “I think there should be another way to base it on, not a five monograms because it affects everyone so differently,” says Knill.
There’s lots more to the original story. Enjoy, learn, and prepare for our re-legalized future.
[image: Google images science]
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