As the legal cannabis industry continues to grow, one area that remains a significant concern is the impact of cannabis use on driving. Recognizing the need for definitive research in this field, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has announced plans to conduct a study on how cannabis use affects driving skills. The study, which is not yet accepting volunteers, has received state and federal approval and will be overseen by scientists from the UC San Diego Center for Medical Cannabis Research.
Why the Study?
While there has been extensive research on the impact of alcohol on driving skills, the same cannot be said for cannabis. The effects of cannabis can vary widely among individuals based on factors such as tolerance levels and the method of consumption. Consequently, there's a pressing need for scientifically sound data to inform policies and regulations related to cannabis use and driving.
California, being one of the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, finds itself at the forefront of these efforts. The state's DMV is taking proactive steps to understand the exact relationship between cannabis use and driving performance.
While driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal, there is currently no way to measure impairment. With alcohol, the legal driving limit is a blood-alcohol level (BAC) of .08, but no corresponding limit exists for cannabis. CBS News reports that California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers "are trained to look for signs of impairment."
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) supports further research into cannabis' impact on drivers.
Possible Implications of the Study
The findings of this study could have far-reaching implications. They could influence future legislation regarding cannabis use and driving, including setting legal limits for cannabis impairment while driving, similar to blood alcohol content (BAC) limits for alcohol.
Moreover, the results could also impact how law enforcement officers are trained to identify cannabis-impaired drivers and how roadside testing is conducted.
Finally, the study could also play a significant role in public education campaigns, providing factual information about the risks associated with cannabis use and driving.
At Purdy & Bailey, LLP, we make it our business to stay current on the latest developments in cannabis law and policy.
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