How high is too high? Seattle KIRO tests pot smoking drivers for impairment
Now that Marijuana has been legalized in Seattle it was only a matter of time before someone decided to do a “wet lab” in Seattle with Marijuana and publicize the results and findings. If you don’t know what a “wet lab” is. Its a training that police officers do to help with alcohol impairment detection. Basically they go to a location, and some volunteers get drunk. Then the Officers administer the field sobriety tests to the impaired individuals just to get an idea of what it is like investigating people out in the field.
The reason I’m talking about this wet lab stuff is recently a local news station here in Seattle decided to run a little experiment on Green DUIs. They got some volunteers together and had them drive in a closed obstacle course completely sober. No alcohol, no marijuana. Then they had these people smoke a little marijuana, drive some more, then smoke some, then drive again. I don’t know a lot about marijuana since I don’t smoke it. But the name of the strand was pretty cool. It was called blueberry train wreck. Each time after the volunteers drove, their blood was taken, and their results from the driving were noted. Also the news station had a drug recognition expert there to determine in the field the level of impairment.
Some of the results and observations from the “study” were pretty interesting. Remember the legal limit for Marijuana in your system in Washington State is 5 nanograms. During the experiment there were three drivers. They were tested before driving the course the first time. They were then given marijuana and asked to drive the course a second time. Their results were compared, along with the different levels of marijuana after a blood test. In some cases they were given even more marijuana and asked to drive the course 3 to 4 times.
The first driver was a medical marijuana patient who smoked heavily before the experiment. Before she even started the experiment she was at 16 nanograms from her daily smoking. So FYI if you smoke a lot it takes a long time for you to get Marijuana out of your system and you’re most likely operating at the legal driving limit on a daily basis. I’m talking to you heavy pot users. Surprisingly though the instructor said her driving was fine. It was until she got to 1.6 grams that she started to show signs of trouble.
The second driver was a casual pot smoker who smoked on the weekends. The initial test showed no marijuana in his system. He was then given three tenths gram of marijuana to smoke. His driving was actually pretty good, not revealing any significant decrease in motor skills. He was then given nine tenths a gram and continued to drive. At the end of the experiment he was 26 nanograms. Towards the end of his driving he showed more and more problems driving. At one point almost hitting a photographer.
The third driver was an occasional pot smoker. He also showed no marijuana in his system during the initial test. He was given the first batch of marijuana and again did not show any decrease in motor skills, although it was noted he was driving a little slow. However like the second driver the more he was given, the more problems in the driving occurred. At the end of the experiment his level was 21 nanograms.
So what do I take from these results. Well to be honest this just affirms the same opinions I had of this so called legal limit when the 502 was initially passed. It is too low.
First if you’re a daily pot smoker, you operate at the so called legal limit every day. Meaning every time you drive chances are you’re over the legal limit and subject to an arrest for a Green DUI.
Secondly based on the driving of the second and third drivers when you’re at the so called legal limit there is not much of a decrease in motor skills. It was not until those individuals were at 4 times the legal limit they showed obvious signs of impairment and difficulty driving.
Lastly, and probably the most interesting is the daily pot smoker, even at higher levels she did not show any signs of impairment from the driving. In fact the instructor said her driving was fine, and she was borderline whether she would even get pulled over.
If you want to check out the article and see the footage then you can watch, Its titled, How High is Too High
Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle, WA. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other related offenses.