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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Companies seek test for marijuana impairment

Although several states have legalized the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana, there is still no field test that measures a person's impairment while driving. According to the Automobile Association of America's Foundation for Traffic Safety, fatal crashes in which marijuana appeared to be a factor doubled in Washington state following legalization.

However, AAA also says that unlike alcohol, it is not possible to reliably predict how impaired a person might be based on how much marijuana is in the blood. People are affected by marijuana in different ways, and it does not work on the body in the same way that alcohol does. Furthermore, some experts say that states have set minimum levels of THC that have no connection to whether or not a person is impaired. This could lead to people being jailed who are not a danger. The AAA report said that such standards were both unscientific and arbitrary.

AAA believes that the standard should be based on when a person most recently used marijuana and on an examination of the person's behavior. In the meantime, a number of companies are competing to develop the first Breathalyzer-type device for THC. However, there is still not a clear legal standard for unsafe amounts of THC.

A person who is facing charges for impaired driving charges might want to speak to an attorney about the situation. If the charge relates to marijuana, it may be possible to argue that there is not a clear test for impairment. If it is for alcohol, there may also be problems with testing and assessment of how impaired a person might be.

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