While marijuana is illegal at the federal level, what with Washington and Colorado having recently passed laws decriminalizing pot use for everyone over 21, it brings up the question of driving while high and the enforcement and testing of drivers suspected of being too lit to drive.
Driving while intoxicated, whether it’s on alcohol or weed or prohibited and banned substances is illegal in all 50 states, but unlike alcohol, legislating and testing for marijuana in drivers is tricky. The problem is that alcohol is alcohol once it’s in your bloodstream, and states have had their own baselines for determining how much deems one intoxicated, and it’s easy to test for when someone is pulled over— just blow into this tube. But THC has a wide variety of effects on different people and at different concentrations and can peak depending on how it is ingested. Smoking from a bong for example, will give you a THC peak shortly after smoking that then ramps down over an hour or two. A brownie will build up slowly, so you’re going to be higher an hour later and then it will gradually come down from there. Yet even if someone is too high to be driving, they fail a field sobriety test and a police officer cuffs the person and takes them somewhere to have their blood tested, they can register with THC levels in their blood that are nearly the same whether they’ve just gotten high or if it’s been a few hours, because THC leaves the body much more slowly than alcohol.
Then there is the fact that an alcohol drinker can easily gauge his or her own intoxication based on what they’ve been drinking— it’s pretty standardized. Two beers, two shots, two mixed drinks— drinkers know what they’re getting. Various strains of weed can have widely varying potencies that can creep up at different times.
And then there are disagreements among legislators and scientists as to what kind of THC levels in the blood count as being intoxicated. Some states have zero tolerance, where others have so many molecules per drop and other have a lot more, and no one can decide on any sort of standard.
So just be safe. Don’t be stupid. It may be years and years before your local lawman has the technology to quickly detect if you’re high, but it doesn’t mean you should get blazed and go cruising the highway.
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