Americans are being arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana based on arbitrary standards set by state lawmakers, which a study by American Automobile Association (AAA), the country’s largest auto club, says have no connection to whether the driver was actually impaired.
The study by AAA’s safety foundation found that the current marijuana DUI limits have no scientific basis and can result in innocent drivers being arrested, reports The Washington Post.
“There is understandably a strong desire by both lawmakers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment in the same manner we do alcohol,” said AAA’s president and CEO, Marshall Doney. “In the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research.”
Some states, such as Colorado, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Washington, currently have limits set for THC, the psychoactive substance in marijuana. The use of marijuana is legal in those states for either recreational and/or medicinal purposes. The laws presume that a driver whose THC level exceeds a certain arbitrarily made limit is impaired.
Nearly a dozen other states have legalized marijuana for medicinal use, such as Arizona, but have zero-tolerance laws for driving with marijuana in a person’s system. These laws make not only any presence of THC in a driver’s blood illegal, but also the presence of its metabolites, which can linger in a driver’s bloodstream for weeks after any impairment has dissipated.
AAA said that the degree to which a driver is impaired by marijuana is similar to alcohol – it depends a lot on the individual’s tolerance, metabolism and weight. Drivers with a higher level of THC in their system might not be impaired, especially if they are regular users. Meanwhile, drivers with a lower THC level may be too impaired to be driving.