For suburban Denver resident Angeline Chilton, smoking marijuana before getting behind the wheel of her car isn’t for fun, but a necessity. Chilton suffers from tremors, a side-effect from multiple sclerosis, and relies on cannabis to soothe her shakes. Without it, she would be forced to stay home and lean on others to get things done for her. Chilton acknowledges the concerns many have about medicinal marijuana but she understands the effects it has on people.
“I don’t drink and drive, and I don’t smoke and drive,” Chilton told the Associated Press. “But my body is completely saturated with THC.”
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol when referred to by name, is the key senses-altering ingredient in marijuana. While some states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes the government is still uneasy about it. Government officials are battling pressure from marijuana advocates as more people acknowledge needing the drug to operate a motor vehicle. The major blockade that stands in the way of marijuana being legalized on a national scale is the ability to set limits on it. Alcohol is easier to enforce. If a driver is arrested for driving under the influence a police officer can conduct a field sobriety test and ask the suspect to take a breathalyzer test. This test registers one’s blood alcohol content level and anything over the legal-limit of 0.08 gets you an all-expense-paid-trip to the local slammer until you sober up and a revoked driver’s license for an extended period of time.
The problem with cannabis is that there’s no way to test the amount of THC in one’s system. There also isn’t a limit in place to tell when someone is too stoned to drive. In addition, the THC stays in the bloodstream much longer. As it stands now, someone is arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana when an officer deems the suspect is indeed stoned. The suspect is then subjected to a blood test and waiting for the results can take anywhere between a few hours to a few weeks.
Both issues with a proposed limit and testing for cannabis appears to have a solution in sight as one doctor claims the U.S. government is close to finding answers to these questions. Dr. Marilyn Huestis of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says a test that looks for sativa (a strain of marijuana) and recent cannabis use is in the works already.
However, Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the National Drug Control Policy thinks a way to test for marijuana is still quite a few years off from becoming a reality.
“I’ll be dead — and so will lots of other people — from old age, before we know the impairment levels [for marijuana and other drugs], said Kerlikowske to the New York Post.
While the government struggles to find perspective boundaries as more states move to legalize marijuana one thing remains certain. The government recognizes it needs to find a solution to these aforementioned questions in a hasty fashion. Whether or not these solutions rule in people like Chilton’s favor remain to be unseen.
What say you? Do you think smoking marijuana and then driving a little while after is helpful or hurtful to someone who uses it? Sound off in the comment section below.
Source: New York Post