California drivers know the drill: 0.08 blood alcohol concentration is the legal limit for driving.
But what about marijuana? Should the state implement a blood test to determine if someone is impaired by THC, the key psychoactive ingredient in marijuana?
This is one of the questions that emerged after Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, with legal sales starting in 2018.
One state lawmaker, a former California Highway Patrol officer, is cautioning against that approach, arguing that THC blood content is not a reliable indicator of impairment.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey, R-Palmdale, said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee that so-called “per se” limits — like blood alcohol concentration — don’t make sense for cannabis users.
“It’s a very unique substance,” Lackey said, adding that marijuana is unlike alcohol when it comes to impairment.
Several states have established a “per se” limit for THC in the blood, including Colorado, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, though there is no consensus on what the limit should be, according to a report from the law firm Caldwell Everson shared by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
One state, New Mexico, is currently considering a bill that would establish a limit as well.
Annie Kitch, a senior policy specialist with the National Conference of State Legislatures, told The Bee that testing for drug impairment is challenging due to the lack of an established relationship between the concentration of a drug such as THC and the level of impairment it causes in an individual.
“Additionally, drivers who may be under the influence of both drugs and alcohol are often cited for an over-the-limit blood alcohol concentration and rarely tested for other substances. As a result, data on drug-impaired driving is inconsistent and may not measure the full scope of the problem. To remedy these issues, states and law enforcement agencies are exploring new testing methods such as the use of oral fluids to detect drugs,” she said.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Andrew Sheeler on The Sacramento Bee
Published: February 24, 2022
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