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Standards for Stoned Driving could get a push from Congress

According to a new bill introduced on Thursday by Rep. Jared Polis, states would be require to have legalized recreational or medical marijuana in order to create a standard that will help determine when a driver will be considered to be driving under the influence of pot.

This new law, called the LUCID Act, does not set down a specific benchmark for impaired driving on a federal level. According to Scott Overland, the communications director for Polis, the congressman doesn’t intend to pursue a limit in the bill. He said, “The bill simply requires states with legal recreational or medicinal marijuana to have a standard. It doesn’t set a specific standard that they must have.”

So far, a total of twenty states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized marijuana in some form. Colorado was the first to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana.

Polis issued a statement in which he mentioned that it has become vital that we keep our roads safe by updating our driving under the influence laws as more and more states have turned towards implementing regulations to treat marijuana like alcohol. He said, “The LUCID Act creates a single federal standard that will protect the public from impaired drivers and train law enforcement officials to effectively identify offenders. I encourage my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to work quickly to advance this legislation and keep impaired drivers, no matter what impaired them, off the road.”

Apart from creating a federal standard, the legislation would also make a state eligible for additional funding, especially if it were in compliance with federal regulations. These regulations should prevent people to operate motor vehicles while intoxicated, by alcohol, marijuana or any other intoxicant.

The state of Colorado also launched a new campaign, hours before Polis made the announcement. This campaign entitled “Drive High, Get A DUI,” discouraged drugged driving and was aimed at reminding drivers that intoxicants like marijuana do affect their ability to operate a vehicle. It also stated that driving under the influence of pot can lead to charges similar to those faced by drunk drivers. In the state of Colorado, a DUI charge can cost up to $10,000.

While the new bill is under consideration, a debate continues which discusses how exactly drivers are affected who drive after taking pot. The debate also discusses matters which will make sure that only truly impaired drivers are slapped with DUI charges. With marijuana, the person is affected based on how frequently that person gets stoned. For some drivers, even a little bit of pot can make it harder for them to remain alert, while for others, the same amount of pot may have a different impact.

There is also no fully reliable method to test for THC, which is marijuana’s main psychoactive ingredient. Police and law enforcement officials only depend on blood and urine samples taken from the offender to determine how much THC is present in the bloodstream. The level of THC to be considered to be more than the recommended level varies from state to state. For example, 5 nanograms of pot in the bloodstream is considered to be too much in the state of Colorado.

This again depends on how frequently the user takes pot. An infrequent user could test below the 5-nanogram limit, but still be too impaired to drive safely. Another debate when it comes to marijuana impairment is that THC remains in the blood stream for an extended period of time, so a frequent user may have THC in their blood even if they took it a couple of days ago. Other studies reveal that the presence of THC itself does not increase the probability of a crash. There is still a debate going on when it comes to measuring and recording the dangers of high driving.

The Colorado Department of Transportation issued a press release that stated, “In 2012, there were 630 drivers involved in 472 motor vehicle fatalities on Colorado roadways. Of the 630 drivers involved, 286 were tested for drugs. Nearly 27 percent of drivers tested had a positive drug test, with 12 percent testing positive for cannabis.” According to these numbers, it is not clear who exactly was at fault when the accidents happened. The numbers also do not show which drugs these people tested positive for.

News Source: www.HuffingtonPost.com


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