Now that marijuana is legal, police in Washington and Colorado have to tackle the problem of keeping drugged drivers off of the road. Officials are especially worried about the road safety effect in Colorado since its marijuana legalization law doesn’t make any changes to the state’s laws about driving under the influence. Washington, on the other hand, passed a strict drugged driving law: a blood test revealing 5 nanograms of THC (the psychoactive chemical in marijuana) per milliliter leads to an automatic DUI conviction.
Marijuana can cause dizziness and slower reaction time, but so far marijuana advocates have disagreed over naming an impairment standard comparable to blood-alcohol limits. The process of testing and convicting a drugged driver is more difficult since it requires officers to observe signs of impairment and then administer a blood test instead of a portable roadside test. The science on alcohol impairment is much more established than the science on marijuana impairment. It’s difficult for a user to know how many puffs of marijuana crosses the legal threshold, whereas states are able to clearly state how many drinks lead to an illegal blood alcohol content.
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