Science Lags Behind Marijuana Impairment Testing

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Marijuana and driving sound like a bad idea, but it’s up to the California Highway Patrol to determine if someone is impaired behind the wheel.

“We want to remove anyone who’s impaired by any substance from the roadways to keep California safe,” said Glen Glaser with the CHP.

The tactics and strategies used by law enforcement to spot impairment is up for debate while science and technology catch up. CHP officers currently use Drug Recognition Evaluators. There is no approved technology in California that can determine marijuana or other drug impairment on a roadside.

“We don’t want to arrest people who are not impaired by the substance,” said Glaser.

“What we need is impairment testing, not drug testing,” explained Michael Milburn, reciting a line he heard from the editor of ‘High Times’ magazine.

Milburn is a University of Massachusetts Boston psychology professor who developed an app called DRUID that he believes could help keep dangerous drivers off the road.

“What the DRUID app does is demonstrate that it’s certainly possible to measure impairment,” explained Milburn.

The app allows people put themselves through a series of activities that test their coordination, ability to think on two actions simultaneously, follow moving objects, and also tests their balance.

The data is shown on a graph which also shows a comparison to the commonly known standard of alcohol impairment- .08.

Milburn says he hopes his handy app will allow people at home to make better decisions..

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Tom Lackey of Palmdale, introduced a bill that puts the CHP in charge of solving the impairment problem on the roads.

“Field testing of certain technologies so they can gather data on the effectiveness of applying those technologies in the field,” explained Lackey.

With dozens of companies and tech out there all options, possibly including Milburn’s app are on the table.

 

More from Drew Bollea
Comments

One Comment

  1. There needs to be more funding so products can be tested. IMMAD is also a product that tests functional impairment with marijuana use. We know so very little about the impact of marijuana on humans because as a federal Schedule I drug, it is deemed dangerous and thus medical research of “no value”. This has created such a problem in moving the science forward. That said JAMA recently reported that chronic users have a dysfunction in retinal ganglion cells…These cells are critical to accurately process motion, speed, depth and contrast. All important functions for safe driving. The same researchers found that these cells are significantly impaired with acute/recent use of marijuana. IMMAD – Impairment Measurement Marijuana and Driving is a test under development that is a simple two minute tablet application to determine fitness to drive with marijuana use. It capitalizes on the retinal visual impairments caused by marijuana use. It is a direct measure of functions that when impaired result in poor and dangerous driving abilities.

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