Feds Are Testing Stoned Driving By Getting Volunteers High on Government-Sanctioned Weed
The United States has basically come around to the idea of legalized marijuana — so it's time to enforce new laws to keep stoned driving in check. Federal scientists tested the effects of marijuana on driving by plying volunteers with weed, as well as the effects of weed and alcohol combined. The test, which took three years to design and administer, is the most comprehensive study to date on how marijuana affects drivers, and scientists are analyzing the data for practical application in the future.
After consuming certain amounts of pot — which was grown on the only government-sanctioned weed farm in the U.S. — a combination of pot and alcohol, or a placebo, the volunteers were asked to operate the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator for about 40 minutes. The federally funded simulator put the intoxicated drivers behind the wheel in a virtual reality to test how they reacted to obstacles like dark roads, unexpected deer jumping out, and cars suddenly swerving without actually putting their lives in jeopardy.
Like alcohol, different people have different tolerances when it comes to marijuana, but without knowing what quantity levels are considered safe or dangerous, it's currently difficult for law enforcement to regulate stoned driving. The test involved 250 variables in total, which researchers are now evaluating. They hope to be able to release data from the study by October.
Currently, the ways of measuring a driver's miarjuana intoxication are limited. While both Colorado and Washington state, where both medical and recreational marijuana are legal, have enforced measurements for charging a driver with impaired driving, according to the Huffington Post, THC-blood levels don't clearly indicate one's driving ability the way that blood-alcohol does. (You probably heard at least one person in college declare, "I drive better when I'm high.")
So, for now, before the study's data is applied to legislature, officers have resorted to using old-fashioned means of determining whether someone is too stoned to drive. In the video below, a USA Today correspondent is put through the same routine as an impaired driving suspect, which include following the tip of a pen with the eyes, the walk and turn, the one-leg stand, estimating the passage of 30 seconds, counting backward, and the finger to nose.
We may not be scientists, and we'll let the study results determine the laws, but here are just some humble suggestions that law enforcement might want to take into consideration when trying to determine if someone is too high to take the wheel:
- Suspect is driving with one hand while shoving massive amounts of junk food into their mouth with the other.
- Suspect is listening to Bob Marley, Willie Nelson, or Snoop Dogg.
- Suspect starts quoting Aqua Teen Hunger Force or any other Adult Swim show.
- Suspect starts philosophizing the concept of law.
- Suspect tries to convince the officer that he shouldn't be a slave to the system.
- Suspect says the following the line: "Don't drink and drive ... smoke weed and fly!"