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Important study examines dangers of DUI involving marijuana

A few years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study which revealed that more than 15 percent of weekend nighttime motorists would test positive if subjected to a drug test. Of those testing positive, the highest number of motorists would test positive for marijuana as opposed to other drugs.

Far too little is currently known about the link between marijuana use and auto accidents occurring as a result of that use. However, as a follow-up to its initial study, the NHTSA is working with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to launch a study focused on that very link. Specifically, the study will examine how driving performance is affected by inhaled cannabis.

Given the fact that thousands of Americans lose their lives every year in auto accidents and marijuana's role in many of these accidents is not understood, this research is particularly crucial.

The study, which will almost undoubtedly influence drugged driving policies across America, is being conducted at the University of Iowa's National Advanced Driving Simulator. The study was advocated for most strongly by the university's chief of chemistry and drug metabolism for scientific and political reasons.

Currently, state legislators have little guidance on what the safety implications of use are and how to address them. As a result, some states require proof of impairment in order to penalize drivers who have inhaled cannabis, whereas others prohibit driving under this drug's use all together. The study's results will hopefully provide some much needed conclusions on the link between inhaled marijuana use and driving safety.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Study looks at driving under influence of pot," Vanessa Miller, Sep. 9, 2012

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