Thursday, May 9, 2013

5 Nano grams is the new .08 BAC: Marijuana and Driving While High

Ithaca Pot Lovers, Meet The Pot Map, Remember Pot is Still Illegal Federally, from rolling

Many regular marijuana users have recently applauded states like Washington and Colorado on being progressive in passing liberal pot legislation. Yay! people can now smoke people legally (at least under state law) and /or get a medical certification to smoke for health reasons.

As they say, the other shoe has now fallen, now these same pot loving states have enacted the first marijuana while driving laws. These laws have a specific (per se) amount of the drug that charges DWI/DUI for THC. Pot is the number two most used drug while driving so this was a natural progression of sorts.

5 Nano grams of THC is the new .08 BAC, Is it a lot or a little?

THC reaches high levels (100s of nano grams) in majority of users within one hour of ingestion. The THC in the blood will level off to 2-3 nano grams after another two or three hours passes. But if we have chronic substance users tested, their blood levels are chronically high. Are these chronic users affected the same as novice users? Are they too impaired to drive at these blood levels? Blood testing for specific quantities of THC and then judging impairment based strictly upon a number is fraught with issues. Alcohol and pot are just not the same.

CNN Road Tests Chronic Pot Users vs. Novice Users vs. Baked Users

In February 2013 CNN did a "Smoke and Drive" Road Test (closed course) study with a medical marijuana patient, a chronic user, and a novice user. All three performed well on the road tests, as in safely. Watch the video here to judge the results for yourself:

It was not until they got completely "baked"(their term) that road performance became dangerous. The main point being that the marijuana users could distinguish when they should not drive versus alcohol drinkers whose confidence increases with each drink. Alcohol tends to inflate one's sense of confidence and abilities. Being honest with yourself (when high) and conscious of what you can and can not or should not do is a good thing.

New York State Does Not Have a Specific Amount of THC (or any other drug)

NYS still does not have any quantified drug for DWI except .08 BAC for alcohol. Our DWAI (driving while ability impaired) Drugs is any degree of impairment, so having any amount in your blood, of any named drugs (there are 100s), and a demonstration of impairment is enough proof to convict.

Challenging these cases will rely upon the experts in toxicology, pharmacology, and pharmacokinetics. There is little to no agreement scientifically that any specific amount of a drug can determine a degree or level of impairment.

Lawrence (Larry) Newman, D.C., J.D.

Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Ithaca, NY 14850