Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Research: Marijuana smokers (stoners) under influence longer, stronger & can’t drive safely. So much for the “pot never hurt anybody” crowd.

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Friday, July 27, 2012

It’s time to 1.) Call the dogs; 2.) Pee in a cup, and 3.) Mandate pre-licensing testing & renewal testing.

But perhaps more than anything, this conclusively proves that the impairment effects of marijuana are more long-lasting than previously thought, or claimed by legalization proponents.

So much for the folks who claim no one ever died while stoned from smoking pot, because there are clear cut examples of those who have been permanently injured by those who have taken the wheel after toking.

Driving sobriety tests likely to miss medical pot

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK | Fri Jul 27, 2012 4:15pm EDT

(Reuters Health) – A new, small study suggests medicinal marijuana may impair users’ driving skills – but might be missed by typical sobriety tests.

At doses used in AIDS, cancer and pain patients, people weaved side to side more and had a slower reaction time in the hours after using the drug, researchers from the Netherlands found.

For people who hadn’t built up a tolerance to marijuana, those effects were similar to driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08, the point at which drivers are considered legally impaired, they said.

To match Special Report MARIJUANA/CALIFORNIA

Strains of marijuana and their THC potency ratings are shown for sale at the Harborside Health Clinic in Oakland, California June 30, 2010. Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

 “At this time, we know very little about the possible effects that medical marijuana may have on, say, motor vehicle crash rates, injury rates and mortality rates,” said Dr. Guohua Li, who has studied marijuana and traffic accidents at Columbia University in New York but wasn’t involved in the new research.

“There is a concern medical marijuana may interact with other drugs such as alcohol that may further compromise driving safety,” he added.

The new study involved 12 frequent marijuana users and 12 occasional (three times a month at most) smokers. At three different points, researchers led by Wendy Bosker of Maastricht University gave each of the participants either a 20 milligram or 10 mg pill of dronabinol – medical marijuana – or a drug-free placebo pill.

Two to four hours later, participants completed a series of driving tests, including trying to maintain a constant speed and drive in a straight line, or follow at a constant distance behind another car. They also went through a typical highway sobriety test, involving walking and turning and balancing on one leg.

Participants tended to weave a few centimeters side to side when under the influence, but the impairment was smaller in those who were used to doing pot regularly. After using medical marijuana people also took a second or so longer to react when following another car – although that effect could have been due to chance, the researchers reported in the journal Addiction.

The highway sobriety tests, however, didn’t pick up any impairment due to marijuana.


Dronabinol, marketed as Marinol, is intended to have a slower onset than pot used recreationally and can leave people feeling “high” hours after they take it.

“It lasts longer in the oral form, so people are likely to remain impaired for longer periods,” said Dr. Barth Wilsey, who studies marijuana for pain relief at the University of California, Davis.

Wilsey, who didn’t work on the new study, noted that the doses of dronabinol used in it were the highest allowed, and patients usually are started on lower doses.

“You can go to once a day dosing at bedtime, two and a half milligrams if you’re having side effects,” he told Reuters Health – and then impairment while driving wouldn’t be a concern.

Generic dronabinol costs about $4 for each low-dose pill, or up to $15 per high-dose pill.

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 17 states and Washington, D.C.

Li told Reuters Health most states that have legalized medical marijuana have a provision under the law that people shouldn’t drive under the influence.

How well that provision is enforced, and how closely people who use medical marijuana comply with it, is another question, Li said. As the new study shows, “There’s no easy way right now to tell if someone is under the influence of marijuana.”

Researchers are working on such tools, Li said, but they may be years away from being ready for use in the real world.

SOURCE: bit.ly/MkUmR0 Addiction, online July 12, 2012.


2 Responses to “Research: Marijuana smokers (stoners) under influence longer, stronger & can’t drive safely. So much for the “pot never hurt anybody” crowd.”

  1. Theo said

    People should also be tested for prescription drugs many of which are proven to impair drivers a dangerous amount. We can not risk people who are on medication that will likely cause accidents. If you are on prescription medication that is likely to affect your driving you are risking everyone’s life and should not be driving.


    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      Hi Theo! Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts! I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion. There’s a reason why the crime of “DWI” is no longer called “DWI,” and is instead called “DUI” – Driving Under the Influence. That’s because it includes any substance, or any OTC/non-prescription medication, or home remedy which has the potential to impair judgement and/or response.

      In fact, if I’m not mistaken, warning labels are placed on medications to identify those which have such capacity to affect judgement and/or response, and warn to not drive or use heavy machinery while taking the medicine. In fact, I am a proponent for substance testing before licensing drivers, and upon all renewals. After all, driving is a PRIVILEGE, not a right. So yeah, I’m in total agreement with your sentiment.


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