Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Another way blanket federal marijuana prohibition impedes state efforts to craft wise cannabis laws

This new New York Times article, headlined "How Much Is Too Much Marijuana to Drive? Lawmakers Wonder," not only picks up on the recent AAA reports on marijuana impairment and driving, but also spotlights how federal law continues to get in the way of needed research on these issues:

As more states consider legalizing the substance, that presents a challenge to legislators seeking to create laws on driving while impaired by marijuana.

The study, commissioned by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found that laws in six states that legally assess impairment by measuring how much THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) is in a person’s blood are not supported by science. “There is no concentration of the drug that allows us to reliably predict that someone is impaired behind the wheel in the way that we can with alcohol,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research....

The AAA study echoes the recommendations of many experts who call for the improvement of technology to evaluate drivers’ saliva for cannabis use.

Sean O’Connor, the faculty director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project at the University of Washington, said that there was promising research into detecting cannabis through saliva and other techniques, but that it was being stymied by the drug’s legal classification as a Schedule 1 substance. “We are hamstrung by the fact that you can’t do legitimate scientific research unless you have a Schedule 1 license,” he said. His argument underlines the difficulty for states trying to write coherent policy when the drug is still illegal under federal law.

Prior recent related post:

History of Marijuana Laws in the United States, Recreational Marijuana Commentary and Debate | Permalink


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