Cannabis-influenced driving performance is significantly different from alcohol-induced driving behavior, according to driving simulator data published in the Journal of Applied Toxicology. “THC concentration-dependent associations with decreased speed, increased time below the speed limit and increased following distance suggest possible awareness by drivers of potential impairment and attempts to compensate,” authors concluded. “The compensatory behavior exhibited by cannabis-influenced drivers distinctly contrasts with an alcohol-induced higher risk behavior, evidenced by greater percent speed.”
NORML reviews the top news stories of 2015.
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner on Friday issued an amendatory veto to House Bill 218, which seeks to decriminalize minor marijuana possession offenses. If a majority of lawmakers fail to approve of the Governor’s amendments, the measure will be dead for this year’s legislative session.
Drivers who test positive for the presence of THC in blood are no more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than are drug-free drivers, according to a federally sponsored case-control study involving some 9,000 participants. The study, published Friday by the United States National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), is the first large-scale case-control study ever conducted in the United States to assess the crash risk associated with both drugs and alcohol use by drivers.
The Arizona Supreme Court this week rejected a 1990 state law that classified the presence of inert THC metabolites in blood or urine as a per se traffic safety violation. The Court concluded: “Because the legislature intended to prevent impaired driving, we hold that the ‘metabolite’ reference in § 28-1381(A)(3) is limited to any of a proscribed substance’s metabolites that are capable of causing impairment. Accordingly, … drivers cannot be convicted of the (A)(3) offense based merely on the presence of a non-impairing metabolite that may reflect the prior usage of marijuana.”
The passage of medical cannabis laws is associated with a reduction in the public’s consumption of alcohol and with fewer incidences of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to data published in the Journal of Law and Economics.
Members of the Oregon House and Senate have given final approval to two separate legislative measures, Senate Bill 40 and Senate Bill 82, to reduce penalties related to certain marijuana possession offenses. Both bills now await action from Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber. If signed into law, the changes will take effect immediately upon passage.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation, House Bill 1441, into law that criminalizes drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have any detectable amount of THC and/or its inactive metabolites in their blood or urine. Under such internal possession statutes, known as zero tolerance per se laws, motorists who test positive for the presence of such compounds are guilty per se (in fact) of a criminal traffic safety violation, regardless of whether or not there exist supporting evidence that a defendant was behaviorally impaired by such compounds.