How Can We Detect Whether Someone Is Driving High?
In spite of the significant impairments created by the consumption of marijuana, field sobriety tests – which are 90% effective in the identification of drunk drivers – can only correctly identify marijuana-impaired drivers between 30% and 50% of the time. Specialty evaluations are available, but they must be completed after a driver’s arrest, not at the traffic stop. Additionally, traditional chemical tests may not identify exactly how impaired a driver is. Luckily for everyone on the road, scientists are creating an answer to this worsening problem: a marijuana breathalyzer.
The Need for a Marijuana Breathalyzer
Oakland’s Hound Labs expects to premier their marijuana breathalyzer by the end of 2020, according to cofounder Mike Lynn. Another firm from Canada is also attempting to launch their product within that timeline.
A spokesman from Hound Labs says that their test will show whether those behind the wheel smoked marijuana within a three-hour window. This, they assert, is the time frame when drivers are most impaired. They also anticipate that employers will want to make use of breathalyzers at the workplace, to ensure that employees are not high on the job, particularly in high-risk industries such as construction and truck driving. This breathalyzer is an answer to a critical problem: according to a recent Gallup poll, up to 70% of those polled believe that driving while impaired by marijuana is not much of an issue. In reality, this choice is life-threatening to everyone on the road.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Because this drug slows reaction time, driving while under the influence of marijuana can be extremely dangerous. Columbia University conducted a study which found that the percentage of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for this substance tripled between the years of 1999 and 2010, which may indicate that marijuana-impaired vehicle operation is more significantly affecting vehicle crashes. Another study indicated that in Washington state, 25% more drivers tested positive for the use of marijuana in 2013 than in 2012 (due to legalization).
According to Traffic School Online, impairments include:
- Inability to concentrate on the road
- Difficulty completing multitasking efforts
- Worsened hand-eye coordination
- Distorted perception of time and distance
- Reduced ability to evaluate danger
- Slowed reaction times
Is Marijuana Addictive?
This drug is a hot topic of discussion, particularly in areas of the country where its use has been decriminalized, such as Washington state. Mixed messages created through decades of research (biased and unbiased alike) have caused confusion surrounding this topic.
The debates around the legalization of marijuana may obscure the fact that this drug is definitely addictive in nature. THC, the psychoactive component of the substance, is quickly distributed in the blood and areas of the body with high fat content.
Marijuana has both short- and long-term side effects. Immediately after consuming the drug, users can experience memory problems, anxiety, paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, slowed reaction time, increased heart rate, and significant issues with coordination. If someone smokes or otherwise consumes marijuana over a period of years, particularly during the critical period of adolescence, they may experience a decline in IQ, lowered school or work performance, decreased life satisfaction, financial difficulties, chemical dependency, and damage to their lungs.
Many people underestimate the serious addictive potential of marijuana. It is not uncommon for those smoking or otherwise consuming this drug to fall into the self-destructive patterns common to addiction. For this reason, it is vital to seek help before it is too late.
Rehab for Substance Use Disorders
By attending a proven rehabilitation program, you or your loved one will learn to leave marijuana behind for good. Contact Lakeside-Milam today by calling 800-231-4303 to learn more.