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Stoned Driving? Medical Marijuana Brings Up Another Debate

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The medical marijuana debate is bringing up yet another debate: how do you tell if someone is too stoned to drive? States that allow medical marijuana use have struggled for years to decide on impairment levels for years. To detect drugged drivers, law enforcement officials typically use their judgement and then follow up later on with a blood test. This works for drugs that quickly leave the body after use. However, marijuana causes a different dilemma for law enforcement, as an individual may not smoke marijuana for days but still have THC in their body.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis of the National Institute on Drug Abuse says that there will be a saliva test available soon that will be able to detect if someone has smoked marijuana within the past few hours. While she believes that this will bring an end to the debate on stoned driving, other officials aren't convinced. Government officials say that having a saliva test doesn't solve the problem of what constitutes impaired driving.

Despite the debate over stoned driving, it is clear that marijuana use can lead to dangerous driving. Marijuana use can cause dizziness, slowed reaction time and drivers swerving in and out of lanes or drifting across lanes. For example, on recent study found that marijuana use doubled the likelihood of being in a serious or fatal car crash. Furthermore, a nationwide census of fatal traffic accidents found that the percentage of mortally wounded drivers who later tested positive for drugs rose 18% between 2005 and 2011. Clearly, this isn't a problem that is going away as more drivers admit to using medical marijuana, but stay behind the wheel.