Tilray Announces Support For Study Examining Effects Of Driving Under The Influence Of Cannabis

CANADA: Tilray, a global leader in cannabis research and production, announced that it has partnered with researchers at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney to complete a study examining the effects of cannabis on driving and cognitive function.

Agreement represents major milestone recognizing medical cannabis as a conventional medicine for patients in need

“The Effects of Medicinal Cannabinoids on Driving” study was a double blind, placebo-controlled study that compared the effects of two varieties of cannabis – a variety containing high levels of THC and a variety containing a 1:1 balanced ratio of THC:CBD – to a placebo, which contained neither THC nor CBD. Tilray supplied the cannabis varieties for the study from its Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certified facility in Nanaimo, British Columbia.

“We studied the extent to which cannabis affects driving and specifically, whether CBD moderates the effects of THC,” says Thomas Arkell, a Lambert Initiative researcher, who oversaw the trial. “The two main objectives of the six-month study were to characterize and understand how vaporized cannabis effects people’s driving and to establish whether there are differences in the effects of cannabis containing either high THC and very little CBD or a 1:1 balanced ratio of THC and CBD”.

The trial phase of this study was completed in 2018 and the published results are expected in 2019.

“We’re proud to support this important research,” says Dr. Catherine Jacobson, Vice President of Regulatory and Medical Affairs for Tilray. “Patient safety is a top priority at Tilray. The research conducted at the University of Sydney will provide solid scientific data on the implications for driving after consuming cannabis that will be an asset for the entire industry.”

Canada: Police Report No Change In Drugged Driving Behavior Following Marijuana Legalization

CANADA: Canadian police agencies have not reported an uptick in incidences of marijuana-impaired driving in the initial weeks following its legalization, according to an analysis by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). Legislation legalizing marijuana use and retail sales took effect on October 17.

Police agencies in numerous cities and provinces – including Manitoba, Newfoundland, Regina, and Vancouver – failed to report any initial spikes in motorists driving under the influence of cannabis, the report found.

In the United States, peer-reviewed studies show that legal cannabis jurisdictions have not experienced any significant rise in motor-vehicle crashes or fatalities as compared to states where marijuana use remains criminally prohibited.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance,” is available online.

Review Paper: Marijuana’s Driving Impact Less Than That Of Alcohol

CALIFORNIA: Cannabis’ impact on driving performance is generally less pronounced than that of alcohol, according to a review paper published by a pair of New York University researchers and BOTEC Analysis, LLC.

Authors reported that the use of cannabis, absent the simultaneous use of other drugs or alcohol, creates “only a fraction of the risks associated with driving at the legal 0.08 BAC threshold, let alone the much higher risks associated with higher levels of alcohol.” By contrast, they report that “the simultaneous use of alcohol and cannabis is linked to higher levels of driver impairment than either alone” – a finding that is consistent with much of the available literature.

They conclude, “The maximum risk for cannabis intoxication alone, unmixed with alcohol or other drugs, appears to be more comparable to risks such as talking on a hands-free cellphone (legal in all states) than to driving with a BAC above 0.08.” As a result, they suggest that as a matter of policy, “stoned driving alone (not involving alcohol or other drugs), should be treated as a traffic infraction rather than as a crime, unless aggravated by recklessness, aggressiveness, or high speed.”

In virtually all instances, cannabis-influenced driving is classified as a criminal rather than an administrative offense.

Investigators also argued against the imposition of per se limits which criminalize the act of operating a vehicle with trace levels of either THC or THC metabolites in one’s blood or urine. They determined: “Blood THC is not a good proxy either for recency of use or for impairment, and the dose-effect curve for fatality risk remains a matter of sharp controversy. … Moreover, the lipid-solubility of THC means that a frequent cannabis user will always have measurable THC in his or her blood, even when that person has not used recently and is neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired.”

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the American Automobile Association(AAA) take a similar stance against the use of blood/THC concentrations as per se evidence of psychomotor impairment. NORML has long articulated similar opposition, stating, “Per se limits and zero tolerant per se thresholds … are not based upon scientific evidence or consensus. … [T]he enforcement of these strict liability standards risks inappropriately convicting unimpaired subjects of traffic safety violations, including those persons who are consuming cannabis legally in accordance with other state statutes.”


Full text of the paper, “Driving While Stoned: Issues and Policy Options,” is available online. NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana and Psychomotor Performance,” is online.

All You Need To Know About DUI Marijuana Law In California

MJLegal is published by the MJBA.

CALIFORNIA: On November 8, 2016, Proposition 64 was passed in the state of California, legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana. On January 1, 2018, this law came into effect.

According to Proposition 64, any person aged 21 and over may purchase, possess and consume up to an ounce (28 grams) of cannabis or up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrate, and they may also grow up to 6 marijuana plants at their private residence.

In January 2018,  California became the eighth state to legalize marijuana, joining the likes of Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Maine and Massachusetts. But while you may be 21 and over in California, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana in the state.

Arresting someone for a weed-influenced DUI is certainly not as easy as arresting someone for drunk driving. There is no “per se” level like the one for alcohol (0.08%), at least in California, and there are no simple tools like the Breathalyzer to instantly gauge if someone’s driving impaired.

This has created a substantial challenge for police officers in the state, with them having to rely on subjective judgments to determine whether a person is driving under the influence of marijuana.

But California does employ drug recognition experts trained specifically to conduct tests and identify cannabis-related impairment, so if you do get arrested, it’s important to know how to handle a Pot DUI charge.


DUI CheckpointLIST OF CHARGES YOU MIGHT FACE

23152(e) VC – Driving Under the Influence of Drugs
● 23152(f) VC – Driving Under the Combined Influence of Alcohol and Drugs
● Unlawful Possession of Marijuana for Personal Use

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ARE ARRESTED FOR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF DRUGS

If you are arrested for violating 23152(e) VC or 23152(f) VC, you will be subjected to a standard Breathalyzer test used to detect alcohol impairment.

If the test comes up negative or low, and the officer has a reasonable suspicion of drug-related impairment, you will be asked to submit to a blood test or a urine test if you cannot take a blood test or if blood testing facilities are unavailable.

If you refuse to take a blood or urine test while under arrest, your driver’s licence will be suspended for a year, regardless of whether you are later convicted of driving under the influence or not.

THE POSSIBLE PENALTIES FOR POT DUI

Like any other instance of DUI, drug-related DUI is typically charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties imposed would depend on the case and the defendant’s prior DUI convictions, if any.

● 23152(e) VC

If the defendant is convicted under the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(e) VC, their driving license would be suspended for a period of 6 months for a first-time conviction. The period of suspension may be longer with a record of prior DUI convictions.

First-time offenders may have to spend 3 months or more in DUI school, and may also have to spend time in jail depending on the case. The punishments increase with second and third convictions.

● 23152(f) VC

If the defendant’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is found to be more than 0.08% after a blood test, and they are convicted under the California Vehicle Code Section 23152(f) VC, their driving license would be suspended for a period of 6 months for a first-time conviction. The period of suspension may be longer with a record of prior DUI convictions.

The defendant may be placed on summary probation for 3 to 5 years, and they may have to serve jail time and attend DUI school for 3 months or more. The punishments increase with second and third convictions.

A defendant’s fourth or higher conviction is treated as a ‘wobbler’ offense, which can be treated either as a felony or a misdemeanor.

● Unlawful Possession of Marijuana

Possession of marijuana in excess of 28 grams or 8 grams of concentrated cannabis is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of $500.

Possession of marijuana under those limits by anyone aged 18-20 is punishable by a fine of $100 and mandatory drug counseling and/or community service.

If faced with any of these charges, you should consult with a DUI lawyer with years of experience in handling such cases. A lawyer would be your best bet to prepare a solid defense that will get you the best result possible.

With the legalization of weed, you can now get your favorite strain of marijuana at any one of several registered dispensaries all over the state, and you can even get it delivered to your doorstep when you buy weed online.

But it’s not legal to drive under the influence of marijuana, and you would be best served abiding by the law in California.

Study: THC/CBD Administration Not Associated With Driving Impairment

NORWAY: The administration of an oral spray containing equal ratios of THC and CBD is not associated with either driving impairment or an increased risk of motor vehicle accident, according to a literature review published in the journal Brain and Behavior.

Norwegian and Spanish researchers reviewed the results from several driving performance studies that assessed subjects’ abilities following the use of THC:CBD oromucosal spray.

“Real-world registries did not show any evidence of an increase in motor vehicle accidents associated with THC:CBD oromucosal spray,” they reported. “The majority of patients reported an improvement in driving ability after starting THC:CBD oromucosal spray.” The spray, marketed in several countries throughout the world as the prescription drug Sativex, relieves spasticity in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Authors concluded, “THC:CBD oromucosal spray was shown not to impair driving performance.”

By contrast, the results of a recent series of driving studies conducted by a team of French researchers reported that the administration of 20mg of THC in occasional marijuana users can influence both subjective (e.g., subjects’ self-confidence) and objective measurements (e.g., changes in standard deviation in lateral performance) of driving performance. Authors reported that changes in participants’ driving behavior following THC dosing were more pronounced during simulated driving conditions versus real-world conditions – a finding that is consistent with those of previous studies.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The influence of THC:CBD oromucosal spray on driving ability in patients with multiple sclerosis-related spasticity,” appears in Brain and Behavior. Full text of the study, “Cannabis smoking impairs driving performance on simulator and real driving: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial,” appears in Fundamental & Clinical Pharmacology. NORML’s fact-sheet on cannabinoids’ influence on psychomotor performance is online.

Study: Traffic Fatalities Have Not Increased As A Consequence Of Legalization

OREGON: The enactment of adult use marijuana regulations in Colorado and Washington is not independently linked to an increase in traffic fatalities, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Investigators at the University of Oregon compared traffic accident outcomes in Colorado and Washington following legalization to those in other states with similar pre-legalization economic and traffic trends. They reported, “We find that states that legalized marijuana have not experienced significantly different rates of marijuana- or alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to their synthetic controls.”

Authors concluded, “In summary, the similar trajectory of traffic fatalities in Washington and Colorado relative to their synthetic control counterparts yield little evidence that the total rate of traffic fatalities has increased significantly as a consequence of recreational marijuana legalization.”

The study’s findings are similar to those of a 2017 study published in The American Journal of Public Health which reported, “Three years after recreational marijuana legalization, changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization.”

A 2016 study reported that the enactment of medical cannabis legislation is associated with an immediate decline in traffic fatalities among younger drivers.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “Early evidence on recreational marijuana legalization and traffic fatalities” is available from the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Removal Of Controversial Drugged Driving PSA Highlights Seriousness Of Impaired Driving

CALIFORNIA: A January 5 article at The Sacramento Bee reports on the decision to stop running a controversial public service announcement sponsored by the California Office of Traffic Safety.  Critics argued that the ad – which featured a diverse group of individuals explaining why they use pot but also do not drive while high — promoted the use of marijuana at the same time as it tried to discourage getting behind the wheel while high.

Legal Defenders at the Law Offices of Burg & Brock, a Los Angeles-based personal injury law firm, says that, the controversy aside, any means of reminding the public that all types of impaired driving can easily lead to deaths and permanent injury is laudable. It adds that the first priority of public efforts to discourage potentially deadly poor behavior should be sending a powerful and persuasive message, not rendering either approval or disapproval of various substances.

Legal Defenders notes that, while some people may find drinking to be less questionable than using recreational marijuana, the issue is not the substance, but the greatly increased likelihood of a deadly collision while driving under the influence of a substance. It adds that the friends and relatives of someone who has died because of an impaired driver do not really care whether the impairment came from alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, prescription drugs, a smart phone, or lack of sleep. Cultural issues around the social acceptance of the use of alcohol and marijuana might be ripe subjects for public discussion and debate, but the real issue with impaired driving has nothing to do with social norms and everything to do with human lives, says the law firm.

A much more relevant issue relating to the legalization of cannabis and traffic safety says Legal Defenders, is the need for authorities to better assess and define what actually constitutes impaired driving while using cannabis. At the same, it’s obviously important for groups advocating against drunk or drugged driving to educate the public that, while the effects of alcohol and marijuana may differ, they share a very similar potential to cause deadly accidents, says the law firm. The real moral issue involved in impaired driving, says Legal Defenders, has everything to do with every driver’s responsibility not to endanger the lives of others and less to do with social norms relating to indulging in pot or alcohol.

 

Study: Cannabis Use Not Significantly Associated With Increased Traffic Accident Risk

ROMANIA: Cannabis exposure is not strongly associated with an increased risk of motor vehicle accident, according to a meta-analysis of 24 epidemiological studies published in the journal Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Investigators at the University of Bucharest, Department of Medicine and Pharmacy reviewed data from two-dozen studies assessing the association between cannabis-positive drivers and unfavorable traffic outcomes, such as motor vehicle collision, injury, or death.

Authors concluded: “Our analysis suggest that the overall effect size of DUIC (driving under the influence of cannabis) on UTEs (unfavorable traffic events) is not statistically significant.”

Researchers also questioned the validity of imposing strict liability standards upon motorists who test positive for past cannabis exposure, such as by the presence of THC in their blood. “Simply identifying cannabis use in a driver is not enough to justify the assumption of an increased risk for UTEs,” they concluded. “When such a result is obtained, it should be corroborated with either quantitative data regarding cannabis use, or a clinical assessment of the driver, before establishing his (or her) fitness to drive.”

NORML has long opposed the imposition of THC per se standards, which criminalize the act of driving with detectable levels of THC or cannabis-specific metabolites in a subject’s blood or urine, because the presence of such compounds is not consistently associated with either recent drug ingestion or psychomotor impairment.


For more information, contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org. Full text of the study, “The association of unfavorable traffic events and cannabis usage: A meta-analysis,” appears in Frontiers in Pharmacology. Additional information regarding cannabis, psychomotor impairment, and accident risk is available from NORML online here and here.

Facts About Urine Drug Testing Procedure

Just like its name suggests, urine drug testing procedures test the urine for any traces of substance abuse. The procedure is quick and painless, as it simply requires you to provide your urine as a sample for the test. Using this sample, your urine can be tested for alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines, marijuana, opioids (narcotics), PCP, and benzodiazepines.

A lot of companies these days are requiring their employees to go through drug testing procedures. One of the main reasons why this is done is because a good number of states mandated to drug test workers. However, it’s not all about that because there are also certain policies that protect the privacy of the tested person. Nevertheless, if you are required to take a drug test by a potential employer or for any other reason, it’s important that you know what to expect from the procedure.

Types of Urine Drug Tests

Today, there are two different types of urine drug tests. Immunoassay is the first test type which is a cost-effective drug test that yields results quickly. There are, however, drawbacks to using this kind of urine test. This is because the test sometimes gives out a false positive result, wherein the test brings a positive result for drugs even though the person is not taking any drugs. This is due to medicinal residue left in the system that can trigger drug tests in numerous ways. When this happens, you’ll have to retake the test again.

Once the drug test comes out positive but you deny using any drugs, you’ll be required to take the second urine drug test type known as gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The second test uses the same urine specimen as the first test. These tests are usually more expensive and could take longer to produce test results. On the plus side though is that they rarely give out any false positives.

Taking the Urine Test

No matter what drug you’re testing for, taking a urine test at the lab and at home basically follow the same process – you urinate into a cup. At home, you’d need a specimen container and a drug testing kit to administer the test. At the lab, the following steps normally take place:

  • You will receive a specimen cup from the person administering the test
  • You will have to leave behind your belongings in another room as you take the test. There are some instances wherein you may be required to change into a hospital gown so you can easily take the test.
  • To make sure that you don’t try to skew the test results, a nurse or a technician may accompany you into the bathroom.
  • Before starting, make sure to clean your genital area with the provided moist cloth.
  • Start urinating into the toilet, as you would normally do.
  • While you are urinating, make sure to catch sample into the cup midstream. Don’t let the cup touch your genital area.
  • When done, put a lid on the cup. Bring it to the technician so it can be processed.

Test Results

Once you have supplied your specimen sample, the technician or nurse will inform you of when your test results will be available. With the use of an Immunoassay test, you should be able to get your results right away. In the event that your test results to positive for illegal drugs you haven’t taken make sure you request for a GC/MS test right away.

Study: Adult Use Marijuana Laws Do Not Adversely Impact Traffic Fatality Rates

TEXAS: The enactment of statewide laws regulating the adult use and sale of cannabis is not associated with subsequent changes in traffic fatality rates, according to an analysis of traffic safety data published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws.

“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” authors concluded.

Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization and the total number of non-fatal crashes.

Commenting on the findings, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said: “These conclusions ought to be reassuring to lawmakers and those in the public who have concerns that regulating adult marijuana use may inadvertently jeopardize public safety. These results indicate that such fears have not come to fruition, and that such concerns ought not to unduly influence legislators or voters in other jurisdictions that are considering legalizing cannabis.”

A prior study published last year in the same journal reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws is associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among younger drivers.

Fatal accident rates have fallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.