Should You Get a Ticket For Driving Stoned?

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

Prof. Kleiman

Prof. Mark A. R. Kleiman PhD
Affiliated Faculty, NYU Wagner; Professor of Public Policy
NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? 

Response: As state after state legalizes the sale of cannabis, the question of cannabis-impaired driving is getting more attention. There is evidence that the practice has become more common, both because cannabis use – and especially heavy, frequent use – has increased and because a distressingly large fraction of cannabis users believe, falsely, that stoned driving is safe.

The natural response to the problem is to treat cannabis on a par with alcohol: fairly severe criminal penalties for impaired driving, with impairment defined by a specific level of the drug in the body. The paper argues that this would be a mistake, for four independent reasons:

– While cannabis makes driving riskier, it does so by about a factor of two, with no strongly observed dependency on dosage. Alcohol, by contrast, has a steep dose-effect curve. At the legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol content by weight, the relative risk of drunk driving is at least eight; at 0.15%, which is fairly common, the relative risk has been estimated at 30-50. So there is no justification for punishing stoned driving as severely as we punish drunk driving.

– The lack of evidence of a strong dose-effect relationship suggests that a legal standard based on the content of cannabinoids in blood may not be appropriate.

– Even if a blood standard were valid, the lack of a breath test would make enforcing that standard nearly impossible as a practical matter.

– The long and unpredictable course of cannabis metabolism means that frequent users will be at risk of failing a drug test even when they are neither subjectively intoxicated nor objectively impaired. Worse, they would have no way of judging in advance whether or not driving would be legal. The result would be a re-criminalization of cannabis use through the back door.  Continue reading

The Impact of Alcohol Abuse and Dependency

alcohol-cdc-imageThe 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 26.9 percent of people over the age of 18 have engaged in binge drinking in the past year and 15.1 million adults have Alcohol Use Disorder. With alcohol as the center of many social events and lifestyles, many people can easily forget some of its long-term consequences. However, these consequences could have a major impact on your social life, as well as your health and legal environment.

Physical Life Impacts

An excessive amount of drinking can take a serious toll on your physical health. Alcohol interferes with the communication of pathways to the brain and therefore can disrupt your emotions or mood without any warning. Over time, drinking can also damage the heart and lead to stretching and drooping of the heart muscle known as cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat, stroke, or high blood pressure. It can also lead to liver inflammation, fibrosis, swelling of blood vessels, and cancer. Your immune system can also become affected by too much alcohol, leaving you susceptible to a variety of diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Social and Lifestyle Impacts

Excessive drinking can lead to an impact on family, work, and social life. It can have an impact on work performance and cause many people to call off work or miss obligations. Financial problems can also arise when spending too much money on alcohol, which can lead to further family and marital problems. Many alcoholics also tend to lose friends because of the way they act while under the influence and can also face limited career opportunities because of alcohol-related offenses.

Legal Consequences Associated with Alcoholism

Studies have shown that alcohol can contribute to criminal behavior as it reduces inhibitions and diminishes the thought processes and shields you would normally have while you are sober. Some alcohol-related offenses include assault, property damage, disorderly conduct, offensive behavior, and resisting arrest. One legal consequence that is directly related to alcohol consumption is drunk driving. According to this Mesa DUI attorney, a DUI penalty can also lead to further social, emotional, and physical consequences. You could receive jail time, counseling, fines and fees, and a revocation of your driving privileges.

What to Do If You or Your Loved One is Abusing Alcohol

If you or your loved one is experiencing any issues with alcohol, it is important to reach out to a licensed professional. You can partake in counseling, therapy, or other medical treatments. Remember that you’re not alone and that you can change your lifestyle or situation. 

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