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Marijuana as Medicine Needs Rules to Drive By
Posted by CN Staff on July 01, 2012 at 17:04:08 PT
By Robert Frichtel
Source: Bloomberg.com 
USA -- Letís start by stating that driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol is a crime and must be punished. All 50 U.S. states have clear laws prohibiting this activity. But there is one intoxicant that is trickier than the others: marijuana, especially when used for medical purposes. During the past two years, Colorado and Montana, along with more than a dozen other states, have proposed laws that set a strict threshold for determining when a marijuana user is deemed too impaired to drive. These would consider a concentration of more than 5 nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC (the psychoactive component of marijuana) per milliliter of blood, as hands-down proof of intoxication or impairment.
The result would be an automatic guilty verdict, with all that entails: a temporary loss of driving privileges, fines, lawyerís fees, possible jail time and greatly increased insurance premiums. By some estimates, a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) can cost a driver as much as $10,000. Several states are going further and have either adopted or are considering zero-tolerance laws for THC levels. This means any THC in the blood would result in a conviction. Hereís the problem with these laws: There are questions about how, and at what level, cannabis use impairs driving ability. For a patient in one of the 17 states where marijuana has been legalized for medicinal use, how are you to know when itís legal to drive? After consuming marijuana, should you wait 12 hours to drive or one day? When will your THC level be below the 5-nanogram threshold? The answer is complicated. Chronic UsersAlthough marijuana is readily detectable in toxicology tests of blood, hair, urine or saliva, what isnít clear is just how quickly THC passes through the body. We know, for example, that THC may be detected in the blood of occasional users several hours after ingesting. But in some chronic users there may be traces for days after the last use, long after any performance-impairing effects have subsided. This is a very clear contrast with alcohol. There is a firm understanding of the rate at which the body metabolizes alcohol and there are well-known guidelines on how much time must pass after drinking before one is fit to drive. Tests can easily be administered in roadside stops. Those who fail simple benchmarks of sobriety -- not to mention breath tests -- are usually convicted or plead guilty. The research on how marijuana affects driving is far less conclusive, though. Testing done on drivers under the influence of alcohol often show that drivers display more aggressive behavior behind the wheel, and errors are more pronounced than when sober. The opposite tends to be true when drivers are under the influence of THC; they tend to have heightened awareness -- rather than diminished sensitivity as they do after drinking -- to their surroundings. As a result, they tend to compensate by driving more cautiously. A 2007 control study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health reviewed 10 years of U.S. auto-fatality data. Investigators found that U.S. drivers with blood-alcohol levels of 0.05 percent -- a level below the national 0.08 percent legal limit -- were three times as likely to have been driving unsafely before a fatal crash, compared with individuals who tested positive for marijuana. What this means is that we need more research before new DUI marijuana laws are enacted. Setting an absolute impairment standard for THC bloodstream levels is premature. And these laws, which target marijuana use and associated medical marijuana patients, are discriminatory. Pain Killers I say this at a time when there is an absence of legislation dealing with the use and well-documented abuse of prescription painkillers, which can dangerously impair the judgment needed for safe driving. State legislatures arenít setting arbitrary and scientifically unproven blood-level standards for these drugs. So why are they focused on marijuana? Driving while intoxicated must anywhere and everywhere be illegal, whether that impairment is caused by prescription drugs, alcohol purchased at a liquor store or marijuana used on the recommendation of a doctor. Under current standards, someone can be charged with DUI for marijuana use based on roadside sobriety tests and observations by the arresting officer in conjunction with blood samples. Those tests serve their purpose at this point. But if states are going to turn to strict threshold laws, they should answer this question: Based solely on THC concentrations in blood from marijuana, when is a driver too impaired to drive safely? Until the evidence is in, itís hard to see why any state needs to lower the burden of proof necessary to convict someone of a DUI marijuana charge. Robert Frichtel is managing partner of the Medical Marijuana Business Exchange. The opinions expressed are his own.Source: Bloomberg.com (USA)Author: Robert FrichtelPublished: July 1, 2012Copyright: 2012 Bloomberg L.P.Contact: robert mymmjexchange.comWebsite: http://www.bloomberg.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/l0cjjVfzCannabisNews Medical Marijuana Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/medical.shtml 
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Comment #14 posted by jetblackchemist on July 05, 2012 at 23:46:22 PT:
Impairment yeah right.
20 years ago; I used to work construction as a construction site project manager, and I smoked over a half ounce a week by myself. One morning driving on the way to work I was smoking a big fatty; to deal with pain from a slipped disc in my back, when out of nowhere this woman going over 90 MPH, cuts two lanes heading into mine for a left hand exit; about to side swipe me. I only had less than an instant; and in that instant; I was able to check my rear view mirror(so I wouldn't be rear ended), slam on the brakes, yank the parking brake, swerve left towards the shoulder of the ramp, and turn my radio down almost all at the same time, all in complete control of my vehicle. Marijuana impairs driving...Bull Schlitz!
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Comment #13 posted by FoM on July 03, 2012 at 19:49:23 PT
Paint with light
I know you won't. Thank you. 
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Comment #12 posted by Paint with light on July 03, 2012 at 19:40:15 PT
FoM
I am sorry to hear about the health problems your family is having.I wish only the best for everyone.You know I will not be creating any problems.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on July 03, 2012 at 18:46:01 PT
Paint With Light
I don't want to get into this. I have enough issues I am dealing with on a personal level with health issues in my family and now my nephew just had a heart attack today and on and on. 
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Comment #10 posted by Paint with light on July 03, 2012 at 17:52:21 PT
I wish it would also
I am not the one doing the attacks here.I have not initiated anything and I won't.We know who needs to be addressed.I wish you would do that.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on July 03, 2012 at 16:54:09 PT
Just a Comment
I was hoping this would just stop and I wish it would.
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Comment #8 posted by Paint with light on July 03, 2012 at 16:29:10 PT
personal attacks
Someone has a real personal problem.Lies about me don't bother me.No one who has followed my postings really reads or believes them.My truths have always been there for all to see.Only one person has ever objected to my comments.That person has an unhealthy obsession with me.Equal with alcohol.
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Comment #7 posted by museman on July 03, 2012 at 09:40:57 PT
OT: a new poem
fresh today
TwS
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Comment #6 posted by Paint with light on July 03, 2012 at 00:46:55 PT
Link to article mentioned in coment 5
http://news.yahoo.com/readers-write-dangers-big-banks-second-hand-marijuana-200735942.htmlLegal like alcohol
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Comment #5 posted by Paint with light on July 02, 2012 at 23:44:09 PT
Ot biased article over at CSM
There is a laughable article over at the CSM.It is about the dangers of second hand cannabis smoke.Notice the name of the person that wrote the letter.At least the comments section are more enlightened (except for one).Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on July 02, 2012 at 12:06:47 PT
World News From United Press International
Canadians Favor Decriminalizing MarijuanaJuly 2, 2012URL: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/07/02/Canadians-favor-decriminalizing-marijuana/UPI-61471341249279/?spt=hs&or=tn
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Comment #3 posted by FoM on July 02, 2012 at 12:04:40 PT
World News From The Huffington Post
Colombia Decriminalizes Cocaine and Marijuana, As Latin American Momentum for Drug Policy Reform Continues July 2, 2012URL: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ethan-nadelmann/colombia-decriminalizes-c_b_1638395.html
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on July 02, 2012 at 08:38:17 PT
Marijuana is not an intoxicant!
Therefore, it should not lead to a DUI, unless the purpose of this is to simply show that you are under the influence of it. (as part of the ongoing witch hunt on MJ)Should you be prevented from driving a car if you feel giddy or silly? Should you be allowed to laugh or crack jokes while driving, or does this qualify you as 'impaired?'So far, serious govt tests on this issue have shown that marijuana use in general makes one a safer driver despite all the retoric out there.
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Comment #1 posted by afterburner on July 02, 2012 at 07:11:04 PT
Good Article
I'm surprised that this appeared in Bloomberg."Robert Frichtel is managing partner of the Medical Marijuana Business Exchange. The opinions expressed are his own."Of course, they deny responsibility, but at least they printed it. Sanity is breaking out all over.
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