With the legalization of recreational use of marijuana in some states such as Washington and Colorado and efforts under way in many others, the concerns over the much-debated driving safety under the influence of drugs are on the rise yet again. Law enforcement in Colorado prepares for rigorous action against the use of drugs while driving, counter arguments criticizing the threshold of 5 nanograms in blood are also steadily increasing.

Marijuana versus alcohol

DUID stands for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs, similar to a DUI, or Driving While ability impaired “DWAI,”, that is meant especially for drunken drivers. However, unlike alcohol, on-the-spot testing is not presently available for checking the presence of drugs in the drive. Analyzing breath can detect alcohol, but not drugs. So law enforcement officers resort to physical techniques such as making the driver stand on one leg or walk in a straight line. Law Enforcement has been training “drug recognitions experts” who are specially trained in giving a battery of tests specifically designed for drivers under the influence of different drugs. It has been recently reported that the Federal Government is mooting the introduction of a drug-detecting device called Drugwipe in the near future in some states including Colorado.

5 nanograms vs inebriation

As per law, a driver having 5 nanograms of cannabis in his/her blood is considered “too stoned to drive” and may be booked. However, research and studies reveal that, unlike the case of alcohol, a marijuana smoker drives comparatively well. A regular cannabis smoker hardly shows any difficulty while driving even when the presence of marijuana in his blood is marginally above the prescribed limit. Another valid argument is that patients who are taking cannabis as part of treatments will have more than 5 nanograms in their blood. Defense experts dispute the 5 nanograms equals impairment and the use of experts is necessary to properly defend the DUID case.

It is inevitable to study the effect of legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado in road safety before making new laws or the amendments to the current laws.