High on the highway -- stoned-driving on the increase

October 26, 2018

Getting behind the wheel after cannabis use is on the rise in the US, and THC, not alcohol, is now the most commonly detected intoxicant in US drivers. Detecting levels of THC, however, is challenging and the methods used so far cannot accurately determine a person's level of impairment.

The article "Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options" by Mark A.R. Kleiman, Tyler Jones, Celeste J. Miller, and Ross Halperin, published in De Gruyter's Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, looks at current issues associated with cannabis intoxication when driving and the options available in testing for THC levels.

The study suggests that, due to the recent legalization of the production and sale of cannabis in some US States, the number of people driving under the influence of cannabis is likely to rise, which is unsettling since there is a widespread belief among marijuana users that THC does not have an effect on driving. Americans now spend an estimated 15 billion hours under the influence of cannabis per year, with no sign of consumption slowing down soon.

Unlike breath alcohol detection tests, which are cheap, reliable and can be easily administered at the roadside, a breath test for cannabis remains to be developed.

Oral-fluid testing can demonstrate recent use but not the level of impairment and thus a blood test must be carried out by health professionals at a medical facility. A further challenge is that blood THC levels drop very sharply even after minutes. A blood test is also a poor indicator of how recently the drug was used or the extent of impairment, and other tests are also not completely accurate.

Research on the risk of driving under the influence of cannabis is still preliminary and subject to fierce debate. However, a few facts are certain: stoned-driving adds to accident risk, especially in combination with alcohol and other drugs. Also, while it is certain that the risk of driving under the influence of cannabis alone is much lower than under the influence of high levels of alcohol, it is difficult to determine levels of impairment after cannabis use.

Stoned driving, the article posits, should be discouraged by making it a traffic offense with the promotion of anti-stoned driving messages highlighting the dangers and risks.

"Even assuming that an acceptable test can be developed, stoned driving alone and not involving alcohol or other drugs, should be treated as traffic infraction rather than as a crime, unless aggravated by recklessness, aggressiveness, or high speed," said study author Professor Mark A.R Kleiman of New York University.
-end-
Read the full study/article here for free:

https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/jdpa.ahead-of-print/jdpa-2018-0004/jdpa-2018-0004.xml

De Gruyter

Related Alcohol Articles from Brightsurf:

Alcohol use changed right after COVID-19 lockdown
One in four adults reported a change in alcohol use almost immediately after stay-at-home orders were issued: 14% reported drinking more alcohol and reported higher levels of stress and anxiety than those who did not drink and those whose use stayed the same.

Changes in hospitalizations for alcohol use disorder in US
Changes over nearly two decades in the rate of hospitalizations and in-hospital deaths from alcohol use disorder in the US were examined in this study.

Associations of alcohol consumption, alcohol-induced passing out with risk of dementia
The risk of future dementia associated with overall alcohol consumption and alcohol-induced loss of consciousness in a population of current drinkers was examined in this observational study with more than 131,000 adults.

New alcohol genes uncovered
Do you have what is known as problematic alcohol use?

Does estrogen influence alcohol use disorder?
A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago shows that high estrogen levels may make alcohol more rewarding to female mice.

Sobering new data on drinking and driving: 15% of US alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities involve alcohol under the legal limit
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that motor vehicle crashes involving drivers with blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) below the legal limit of 0.08 percent accounted for 15% of alcohol-involved crash deaths in the United States.

Alcohol-induced deaths in US
National vital statistics data from 2000 to 2016 were used to examine how rates of alcohol-induced deaths (defined as those deaths due to alcohol consumption that could be avoided if alcohol weren't involved) have changed in the US and to compare the results by demographic groups including sex, race/ethnicity, age, socioeconomic status and geographic location.

Cuts in alcohol duty linked to 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England
Government cuts to alcohol taxes have had dramatic consequences for public health, including nearly 2000 more alcohol-related deaths in England since 2012, according to new research from the University of Sheffield's School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR).

Integrated stepped alcohol treatment for people in HIV care improves both HIV & alcohol outcomes
Increasing the intensity of treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD) over time improves alcohol-related outcomes among people with HIV, according to new clinical research supported by the National Institutes of Health.

The Lancet:Targets to reduce harmful alcohol use are likely to be missed as global alcohol intake increases
Increasing rates of alcohol use suggest that the world is not on track to achieve targets against harmful alcohol use, according to a study of 189 countries' alcohol intake between 1990-2017 and estimated intake up to 2030, published in The Lancet.

Read More: Alcohol News and Alcohol Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.