What is the Marijuana Blood Drug Test?:
As marijuana becomes more and more accepted and legalized across the United States, law enforcement needs to come up with new ways to determine if a driver is too intoxicated or too stoned to drive.
Despite what many people think, you can receive a DUI charge for being under the influence of , just as you can with alcohol.
Of course, state and local laws may vary, but generally if you're caught being too stoned to drive, you will very well be in some deep trouble. The goal of the marijuana blood test is to try and provide law enforcement officials the ability to quickly test the active levels of THC in one's blood stream, just as they do for alcohol. The amount of THC in your blood, and the laws of the state, will determine the next action that law enforcement officials will take. By providing a reliable method of taking overly impaired drivers off of the roads It is the hope of the legal community, that these blood tests will make the roads a safer place. But when it comes down to it, how effective are these new tests, and what can you expect to see out there on the road?
Blood Tests are Law Enforcement’s new Go-To for Cannabis Intoxication Testing.
Why Blood Test?:
One of the most common questions that arises when one hears that there is a blood test for cannabis use, is simply “ why? ”. Testing for is hardly new. Over the years there have been various methods of testing THC levels and even other cannabis compounds; most notably the urine test. However, with the advances in modern day technology, blood tests tend to be much more accurate in the determination of THC in the system. Supposedly quicker, more accurate and definitive, blood tests can help the officers build a better case against those whom they feel are impaired. In states where is legal, there may be a set limit that one must be under to not be considered “impaired”, much as there is with alcohol related laws. In states where it is prohibited, the limit is of course zero.
Blood tests for Cannabis are supposedly extremely accurate at determining levels of THC in ones blood at the time the test is administered.
So How does it Work?:
When you consume Cannabinoids, as you might expect, you take in a host of different chemicals that we know are found in cannabis. As we all know, the main chemical found in cannabis that creates the “high”, is the THC. The method of consumption will change the way in which your body processes these chemicals. For instance, when you smoke, you absorb the THC through your lungs, and straight into your blood stream, where it is then converted and metabolized and stored in the fatty cells (this is why THC remains in the system for so long). However, ingest it, the cannabinoids are absorbed and metabolized differently – by the liver – thus producing different effects. However, in the end the cannabinoids are still stored in the fatty adipose cells. The idea for an accurate blood test is that it should only show active levels of THC within the body, not those that have been stored in fatty cells. A urine test can show traces of cannabis throughout the body for two weeks and beyond sometimes! According to How Stuff Works , “The initial effects created by the THC in marijuana wear off after an hour or two, but the chemicals stay in your body for much longer. The terminal half-life of THC can range from about 20 hours to 10 days, depending on the amount and potency oqf the marijuana used. This means that if you take 1 milligram of THC that has a half-life of 20 hours, you will still have 0.031 milligrams of THC in your body more than four days later”. The cannabis blood test is supposed to be a much more reliable way of creating the DUI argument officials need in cases where the need to provide indisputable proof. But how effective is this test really?
The idea behind this is the law enforcement official, after deciding one is inebriated, can then confirm that they very recently consumed Cannabis.
So, is it Reliable?:
So how effective is this new test? According to the American Auto Associations very own website, “Legal limits, also known as per se limits, for marijuana and driving are arbitrary and unsupported by science.” This is a striking statement, as it means that the blood tests have zero meaning without a legal level, or limit. So how can this be? The problem arises when one takes into consideration the actual effects of THC on a person and realizes that it simply does not work in the same way that alcohol does. While it is possible to determine a impairment level and blood alcohol percent level, the same cannot be said for cannabis. For those of you who use cannabis, you know that the more of a frequent user you are, the less effect the flower has on you, and the more you may have to ingest (until you take a tolerance break!). This right here, causes one of the main problems with the blood test.
If you're a regular user, for a long period of time, your blood is going to have a range of levels of THC present, and you may not even be high! Now lets say you get pulled over for whatever reason, and the officers decide to administer a blood test, you are going to come up positive regardless of the level of your sobriety! This is why AAA claims the test is unreliable. As CBS news put it in their report, “There's no science that shows drivers become impaired at a specific level of THC in the blood. A lot depends upon the individual. Drivers with relatively high levels of THC in their systems might not be impaired, especially if they are regular users, while others with relatively low levels may be unsafe behind the wheel. Some drivers may be impaired when stopped by police, but by the time their blood is tested they have fallen below the legal threshold as active THC dissipates rapidly”. Many factors come into play here. Additionally, blood tests are not yet mobile and getting the driver to a police station could mean another couple of hours. The test is starting to seem less and less of a reliable way to create a open and shut case.
Mark A. R. Kleiman from New York University who specializes in issues involving drugs and criminal policy had this to add about the tests, “That makes no sense, a law against driving with THC in your bloodstream is not a law you can know you are obeying except by never smoking or never driving,” In states where cannabis is legal, this seems like a clearly unfair option.
“There is understandably a strong desire by both lawmakers and the public to create legal limits for marijuana impairment in the same manner we do alcohol,” said Marshall Doney, AAA's president and CEO. “In the case of marijuana, this approach is flawed and not supported by scientific research.”
What does this mean for you?
Simply put, until the law figures out their part, one should always use common sense. Do not drive or operate machinery while under the influence of anything that affects your ability to reason and react. Plain and simple. If you are pulled over, for another suspected offense, and for some reason, are believed to be under the influence of cannabis while you are not, regardless of what the test says, our best advise is to contact professionals for advise! Be on the look out for the new blood tests, and be responsible!