Cannabis Use On American Roads, and Off

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Cannabis Use On American Roads, and Off

January 10, 2019

In America, many states are making dramatic strides to be rid of draconian drug laws that mostly affect minorities and the socioeconomically disadvantaged. This is particularly true when it comes to marijuana. As a nation, we are far more progressive about cannabis than just a short time ago. Ten states allow for adult recreational cannabis use and many more states have some version of medical marijuana.

While it is difficult for any one person to make a sound case for laws that attach significant punishments for marijuana use, it is vital that we do not lose sight of the dangers. Cannabis is a mind-altering drug that carries the risk of addiction. The drug, like alcohol, can be used responsibly, but millions of Americans meet the criteria for cannabis use disorder. Such individuals often require treatment to get to the recovery side of marijuana addiction. NorthStar Transitions has helped scores of men and women heal from substance use disorder relating to cannabis.

It is difficult for many Americans to see the harm in engaging in regular cannabis use; the short-term consequences are not always obvious. Those who use the drug daily and in high doses face suffering from cognitive deficiencies. Over time, such setbacks can imperil relationships and one’s ability to be productive at work. What’s more, once dependence and addiction take hold, those who attempt to quit often experience withdrawal symptoms. Of course, here we are talking about the long-term detriments that can accompany using “pot.”

Driving Under The Influence of Cannabis

Even though people using “weed” legally are unlikely to have serious run-ins with the law, driving under the influence can be risky. Legalization and medical marijuana states have had a difficult time policing drugged driving; unlike alcohol, police stations lack simple methods of determining if a driver is too “high” to drive. And, unlike alcohol, cannabis stays in a person’s system long after intoxication subsides.

In Colorado, a permissible inference law is utilized. Which means, if tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the main psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis – is identified in a driver’s blood in quantities 5mg/ml or above, then it is permissible for law enforcement to assume he or she is under-the-influence. Several states, on the other hand, have zero-tolerance laws on the books—no amount of THC is tolerated, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If found guilty, drugged drivers face the same legal challenges as drunk drivers; the problem is that the science behind cannabis intoxication is anything but clear cut.

“It’s a really hard problem,” Keith Humphreys, a psychiatry professor and drug policy expert at Stanford University in California, tells The Daily Beast. “We don’t really have good evidence — even if we know someone has been using — [to gauge] what their level of impairment is.”

Suspecting that a driver is under the influence, and proving it scientifically, is a real gray area. Current THC tests involve blood, urine or saliva samples, and that is assuming law enforcement officials have the technology to conduct the analysis. Right now, there is no suitable mobile test for THC, which forces police officers to perform field sobriety tests. There is an app that measures impairment through a series of cognitive and physical tasks, but it isn’t ideal.

Cannabis Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery

What the future holds for accurately determining someone’s level of intoxication remains to be seen. Hopefully, scientists are tasked with finding sound methods, lest lawmakers decide on arbitrary limits that could negatively and unjustly affect millions of Americans.

At NorthStar Transitions, we can help you or a loved one regain your independence from cannabis use disorder. We offer several different programs to meet the unique needs of each client. Our team of professionals helps clients get to the root of their condition and gives them the tools to make long-term healing from dependence on marijuana a reality, please contact us today to learn more.


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