After Massachusetts voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis, the state police have begun to consider devices for identifying drugged drivers. Michael Milburn, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts, has developed a special mobile app for testing weed impairment.
It is quite difficult to detect whether a driver is under the influence of cannabis, as a traditional breathalyzer does not show THC content in blood. The officer has to observe the person and their car in order to find marijuana traces, and it is often impossible to do.
Considering this problem, Milburn has created an impairment evaluation application called DRUID, an abbreviated form of “driving under the influence of drugs.” This mobile-based software contains a set of special tasks performing which an assumed infringer can disprove or confirm the officer's suspicions in five minutes.
The marijuana sobriety test includes exercises such as stopping a clock after one minute, tapping the screen in places where various shapes appear, following a moving circle with a finger, or standing on one leg for half a minute.
Milburn hopes that his app will be useful not only for law enforcement but cannabis users as well. Previously, tokers had no ways to really know whether they are stoned or not, but this tool will help them become more responsible about their condition and public safety, according to the developer.
The developer has already tested the app by using it repeatedly on people consuming pot. The test results showed the increasing of impairment scores when a stoner was high and decreasing as marijuana compounds metabolized in their systems.
Though a cannabis high lasts for several hours, weed compounds are excreted by the body long after pot consumption. The period of marijuana breakdown depends on various factors, such as the stoner's metabolic rate, diet, the percentage of body fat, and even the level of stress.
According to experts, there is no impairment standard for weed users yet. If people are allowed to drive their cars having 0.08 alcohol content in their blood, a similar norm should also be set for cannabis-impaired drivers.
However, this is a quite difficult issue to solve, as marijuana is fat-soluble and can be found in a stoner's blood for weeks after pot consumption. If you do not feel impaired anymore, it does not mean that your blood is already free of active weed compounds.
Confirming this fact, Milburn is also concerned that people who refrain from driving a car right after cannabis use might get behind the wheel too soon.
Thus, the state police continue to look for new ideas on how to define a person who is too stoned to drive.