A Congressional research body has released a report whose findings bring into question a common assumption which has always been made by legislators that the legalization of marijuana leads to more accidents on roads due to impairment.
The experts, who were instructed by Senate and Congress to study the issue of impaired driving, didn’t find any conclusive evidence that marijuana can cause a driver to be impaired.
While law enforcement agencies have tried and true tools to identify people who are driving while impaired by alcohol, developing similar tools for dealing with marijuana driving impairment has proved to be very challenging.
The problem isn’t just the lack of appropriate technology. Additional questions also exist regarding how much THC can cause impairment and how that impairment is caused. The CRS (Congressional Research Service) writes in its report that while laboratory tests have proved that one can be impaired after consuming marijuana, conflicting results were found when studies were done to ascertain the degree of added risk of fatal crashes resulting from marijuana consumption.
Both opponents and advocates of legalizing marijuana agree that a lasting solution should be found to the issue of how to detect marijuana-impaired driving. However, the experts still doubt whether it will be possible to develop appropriate technology to detect impaired driving since what is currently available can only test whether someone has recently consumed cannabis.
It is remarkable that the Congressional report mentions several times that it isn’t clear cut that marijuana consumption is associated with a heightened risk of traffic accidents. This runs counter to the assumption which has been commonly held by Congress that when marijuana restrictions are loosened, there will be a rise in traffic accident fatalities.
This line of thinking also appeared in the wording of a recent House Appropriations Committee report in which funds were allocated to law enforcement agencies to identify drivers impaired by marijuana as a way of reducing the fatal accidents resulting from the increasing legalization of marijuana by states around the country.
Different researchers have reported that fatalities on the road don’t increase after marijuana has been legalized by a state. However, this doesn’t alter the reality that both sides on the marijuana legalization issue advise against driving after one has consumed cannabis.
The deputy director of NORML explained how hard it is to determine impairment from marijuana. He says that the effects on the psychomotor system are normally less acute and take a shorter time if one consumes marijuana, unlike the opposite case after alcohol consumption. Furthermore, THC remains detectable for a longer time, so a positive test doesn’t prove that one is impaired or consumed cannabis recently.
The Congressional researchers offer a number of recommendations on what Congress can do in light of the information gathered by the researchers. One recommendation is that more research should be done to determine whether a quantitative standard is feasible when determining cannabis impairment.
Redfund Capital Corp. (CSE: LOAN) (OTCQB: PNNRF) (Frankfurt: O3X4), Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQB: PLPRF) welcomes the report of the Congressional Research Service because it helps to dispel some of the misconceptions about marijuana use.
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