The surge of medical marijuana use in Colorado has started another debate in the state Legislature: What constitutes driving while high?
Lawmakers are considering setting a DUI blood-content threshold for marijuana that would make Colorado one of three states with such a provision in statute - and one of the most liberal, according to Rep. Claire Levy, one of the bill's sponsors.
Under the proposal, drivers who test positive for 5 nanograms or more of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, would be considered too impaired to drive if the substance is present in their blood at the time they're pulled over or within two hours.
Levy, a Democrat from Boulder, said she's gotten resistance from medical marijuana advocates who fear it will restrict patients from using the drug.
"What I've tried to assure the patient advocates is that we're not talking about sobriety checkpoints, we're not talking about dragnets and massive stops," she said. "They're not going to be stopped if they're driving appropriately."
While it's already illegal to drive while impaired by drugs, states have taken different approaches to the issue. Twelve states, including Arizona, Michigan, Illinois, Iowa, and Rhode Island, have a zero-tolerance policy for driving with any presence of an illegal substance, said Anne Teigen, policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures. Minnesota has the same policy but exempts marijuana.
If people are allowed to drive after drinking — provided their blood-alcohol level is under the legal limit — then why shouldn't people be allowed to drive after smoking marijuana? That seems to be the question raised by a bill in the Colorado state legislature, which would set a legal limit of under five nanograms per milimeter of THC in a person's bloodstream.
As long as a driver's THC-blood level is under five nanograms, he would legally be allowed to drive. While some are in support of the current zero-tolerance policy, we agree with the idea of establishing a legal limit. If used responsibly, marijuana does not significantly impair a person's ability to drive. A 2004 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study shows that marijuana, if used responsibly, does not significantly impair a person's ability to drive.
In recent time studies have shown that smoking marijuana helps relieve the aching, burning nerve pain associated with HIV. Two teams of researchers from the University of South Florida and University of California are searching for some answers on how to best treat the disease. The experts have been awarded $4.7 million by the National Institutes of Health to examine the effects of THC intake on HIV.
The University of Florida Health Science Center report that the study be five years long to properly determine the changes to immune function and progression of HIV when the substance is abused. Using a technique called systems biology the virologists will study HIV-infected and HIV-free white blood cells specific cellular change relating to active marijuana compounds.
The question is what effect does THC have on the mental problems HIV-infected people experience throughout their lives. Can it slow the dementia? Could it provide therapy for the movement and cognitive problems?
Ultra-potent skunk cannabis is seven times more likely to trigger psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia than traditional hash, a study has warned.
The research, by the highly-respected Institute of Psychiatry in London, will deepen concerns over the safety of cannabis amid political controversy over its criminal status.
Dr Marta Di Forti, who led the research, said: 'Our study is the first to demonstrate the risk of psychosis is much greater among frequent cannabis users, especially among those using skunk, rather than among occasional users of traditional hash.
'Psychosis was associated with more frequent and longer use of cannabis. Our most striking finding is that patients with a first episode of psychosis preferentially used high-potency cannabis preparations of the skunk variety.'
Skunk contains high levels of the psychoactive ingredient delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, known as THC, which can trigger psychotic symptoms.