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Federal Government Conducts Study On Marijuana And Driving

driving marijuana dui duii


Marijuana opponents have tried very hard to scare the American public into thinking that when marijuana laws are reformed, an epidemic will immediately follow of stoned drivers wreaking havoc on public roadways. Marijuana has been legal in Washington and Colorado for awhile now, and the doomsday predictions of marijuana opponents haven’t materialized yet. I would expect that to remain the same. If it hasn’t happened by now, it likely won’t happen in the future.

Determining if someone is ‘too stoned to drive’ is very difficult. There is no reliable way to measure someone’s marijuana intoxication level, unlike alcohol which can be determined accurately by a breathalyzer test. There is no marijuana breathalyzer in use right now, and even if there was, it would only indicate that marijuana is present on a person’s breath, not whether or not the person is too stoned to drive. Blood tests are accurate for determining recent alcohol consumption, but for marijuana, it just shows that the person has marijuana in their system. How long it’s been in their system is nearly impossible to determine since marijuana stays in a person’s system for so long. I had a friend who was forced into rehab, and he didn’t pass a drug test for marijuana for six weeks because he smoked so much.

When I was in a law class in college, my professor was a defense attorney who specialized in DUI cases. He explained to us that an officer has to conduct numerous field sobriety tests before they can determine if a person is too stoned to drive. Some of the tests are for marijuana, but some of them are for other substances, and they are conducted to rule out other stuff and get to a marijuana related infraction by the process of elimination. It’s far from a concrete determination.

The federal government has been studying the effects of marijuana on drivers over the course of the last year. The study was concluded this last Spring. Per USA Today:

A small group of volunteers spent much of the last year getting drunk and stoned on marijuana furnished by the federal government before getting behind the wheel.

The volunteers were part of what federal scientists say was the most comprehensive study ever conducted on how marijuana, and pot combined with alcohol, affect drivers. The data now being analyzed ultimately will help regulators decide how stoned is too stoned to drive. It’s similar to the studies conducted to develop levels for drunken driving. Volunteers were recruited from around Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa’s National Advanced Driving Simulator.

“They were happy to participate,” says Marilyn Huestis, chief of chemistry and drug metabolism at the Intramural Research Program at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Results from the study haven’t been released yet. Being that the study was conducted by the federal government, which has a long history of reefer madness, I’m hesitant to take the results at face value when they are released. When the results are eventually released, I’ll make sure to post them, along with an analysis as to the validity of the findings.


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Johnny Green


  1. https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/do-texting-while-driving-bans-work-072914.html

    7/29/14: Do Texting While Driving Bans Work?

    “They started with the year 2011, citing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study showing 31% of people ages 18 to 64 reported they had read or sent text or email messages while driving at least once in the previous 30 days. That same year, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver and an additional 387,000 people were injured.”

    Shouldn’t the government be more concerned about driving activities that are actually killing people?

  2. Thomas Tony Vance on

    Bogus, if they did not test for pot alone. All I heard so far was they tested for combinations of alcohol and pot not pot alone.

  3. If the study was not done by an independent bipartisan agency than it will be hard to believe the data in this study. Even if it shows marijuana favoritism I will believe that it was low balled. I am interested to see what the study reviews. We should Have the answer in 10 years. Sooner if te government can profit from it.

  4. I gotcha. Politicians are especially fond of that “not enough research” excuse. They think nobody is smart enough to riddle through the circularity of saying “We won’t let you reschedule cannabis because it hasn’t been proven safe, and we won’t let you prove cannabis is safe because it hasn’t been rescheduled.” SMH

  5. stuff a bong on

    I call the study b.s. we should conduct our own study( what do people from Iowa know about driving stoned) I’m from Boston and I’ll be happy to show you how it’s done

  6. I wasn’t pointing to it’s validity, just that they did have 5 different people in that demonstration. I agree that ONDCP as well as NIDA stifle research. I had it out with John McCain over this very issue. He gave me the ole “there’s not enough research on it yet.” excuse. Then in the next breath told me he supported more funding to the FDA, NIH and NIDA. I was like… really? you tell me there’s not enough research, then call for more funding for the EXACT agencies that STIFLE the research he so seeks?

  7. Hehe. That’s awesome! And I’m not surprised. When asked if they would rather have their mother, pregnant and in labor, driven to the hospital by a driver who smoked cannabis for several hours or a driver who had been drinking alcohol for several hours, most people pick the “stoned driver” (and sometimes complain they may drive too *slowly* with a pregnant passenger).

    In academia, most human subject studies have at least 40 subjects. The statistical power of a study goes up when you have a large sample size because that increases the likelihood that your sample resembles the population as a whole. That way, the effect you’re studying is more likely generalizable to the population as a whole, if you run enough subjects. For example, if the cop watched a hundred people smoke cannabis and drive flawlessly — that situation would have more “truthiness” than just watching five people.

    Besides, we want to ensure this is done right. You can be sure I’ll be pouring over this study for confounds. For example, if they fail to stratify their sample, correctly — they could put all of the oldest people with the worst eye-sight and reaction times into the cannabis group, while they stack the control group with young professional drivers with perfect vision. The results would be that the “cannabis” experimental group would perform more poorly than the “sober” control group. Kinda like the 2012 PNAS study that alleged cannabis drops IQ *just so happened* to have the majority of their subjects from the lowest socio-economic brackets in the CANNABIS group instead of stratifying them, equally between the two (socio-economic status is the #1 predictor of IQ).

  8. IIRC, that Washington, although done by a “radio station” DID however have multiple subjects in it. I believe there were 5 total and the cop said he wouldn’t have pulled over ANY OF the subjects

  9. This study is long overdue. Yes, most people know about the stoned girl in Washington they put behind the wheel who successfully ran a driver’s obstacle course (it was quite entertaining), but I believe that was done by a radio station, which explains why they only tested one person. Yes, the results rang true with most people, but it wasn’t an actual clinical study with multiple subjects and statistically significant results.

    Many people don’t know that clinical research with cannabis — actually administering it to subjects and studying the effects — is almost impossible to conduct in the United States, under current federal law. Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act put cannabis into “Schedule 1” (with no proof) claiming cannabis is dangerous and highly addictive with no medical value. The CSA also rigged the game so that the DEA controls all clinical research.

    You see, the CSA grants the DEA exclusive permission to license entities/organizations/individuals to approve of (and supply) clinical research into Schedule 1 & 2 substances. But the DEA has refused to license any entity to approve and supply cannabis research, other than the National Institute on Drug Abuse, another federal agency funded by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (like the DEA). The ONDCP (via DEA and NIDA collusion) has an illegal monopoly on cannabis research, as they are the only federally recognized, legal source for cannabis. It should be household knowledge that the ONDCP has a yearly budget of $25.2 billion (over $9 billion funds the DEA and other domestic law enforcement drug task forces) — every last dime is wasted on failed drug war policy.

    The shell game on clinical cannabis research and rescheduling works like this — the DEA says they cannot remove cannabis from Schedule 1 because there are no clinical trials proving its safety and/or medical efficacy, so they tell people to conduct clinical trials, for which researchers must seek approval/supply from the NIDA. However, the NIDA only approves cannabis research that tries proving cannabis is dangerous — any/all research attempting to prove cannabis is safe/beneficial in any way, shape, or form is *always* delayed indefinitely or denied outright. The research never happens and cannabis stays in Schedule 1, forever.

    The NIDA and the DEA drink from the same $25.2 billion ONDCP trough, which would shrink dramatically were we to treat cannabis like a harmless plant instead of treating it like nuclear waste. A non-clinical study conducted by Anderson & Rees in 2011 showed that states with medical cannabis programs experience, on average, a 9% **DROP** in DUI fatalities — no increase in traffic deaths, whatsoever. So a no-kidding clinical trial is long overdue. The evidence keeps piling up, despite the best efforts of the DEA, NIDA, and the ONDCP.

    It really should bother everyone in America that our tax dollars work AGAINST our best interests in such a starkly outrageous way. I’m surprised conservative America hasn’t jumped all over the NIDA monopoly on the research supply of cannabis — when the federal government is the only legally recognized owner/operator of the means of production and distribution of a product, that’s called SOCIALISM.

  10. Mental Bondage on

    Sorry I was sleepy when I blogged, I meant holding the steering wheel with your knee’s while rolling joint

  11. zerosumgame0005 on

    the most dangerous drivers are either drunk or wearing a badge while drunk on power

  12. BREAKING NEWS: WEED COULD MAKE YOU A BETTER DRIVER! It has for me anyway. Anyone feel the same?

  13. If I am really stoned, I’m just too damn lazy to get up and walk to my car. But if I’m just high, I’m a bit paranoid while driving, which actually makes me drive more carefully and at a chilled pace, instead of speeding when I’m sober.
    Anyways I took all my driving tests high, so I actually learned to drive under the influence. Problem solved. Don’t drink and drive, park and spark.

  14. I’m just about suspicious whenever I see the words “federal government performs study” lol!

  15. Now perform a study about driving while taking prescription medications… (or while very sleepy, really angry, or hyped up on caffeine). Soon, we’ll really know who the dangerous drivers are, because they surely aren’t cannabis lovers. (And then all cannabis lovers should expect their car insurance rates to decrease, right? And if you drink, then your rates will increase, sorry.)

  16. The ones our body produces are called endocannabinoids, so I don’t think they would measure the same as the cannabinoids we (happily) consume.

  17. Since your body makes cannabinoids naturally to live and be healthy, wouldn’t cannabis “sobriety” and “intoxication” be hard to measure?

  18. I don’t know about anyone else , but when I smoke sour diesel, or most sativas, I drive a lot more carefully, I’m more aware. PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT ABOUT WEED AND DRIVING, WHILE HIGH! Besides if you are too stoned, all we do is sit in the parked car and listen to some tunes. PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW WEED IS VERY DIFFERENT THEN ALCOHOL.

  19. Mental bondage on

    Experienced smokers have problem driving while stoned, or rolling a joint with their knees

  20. The preponderance of the research so far shows marijuana consumption is NOT a significant cause of auto accidents.

    See: http://norml.org/index.cfm?Group_ID=5450

    While smoking too much marijuana can cause some impairment, it does not, like alcohol, cause impairment of judgment.

    That’s the primary reason for the lack of accidents. When marijuana consumers are significantly impaired, they choose not to drive. – If they must, they drive slower and more cautiously, correctly compensating for any impairment.

    Marijuana consumers simply don’t put themselves, or others, in harm’s way. – If the fed’s study does not corroborate what we already know, it will be highly suspect.

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