If you’ve ever driven under the influence of alcohol, then at some other time after smoking pot without even a beer, you know this is true. After a few drinks, you may be more sloppy and carelessly reckless than normal, even taking risks you may not normally consider.
But that first time driving after smoking reefer is a shock at first. “Wow, I’m driving a powerful motor vehicle that’s big and weighs a lot and maybe I’m going too fast.” This while the speedometer is registering 25 to 35 miles per hour.
Government groups demand tightly supervised testing. And ironically, they chose the University of Iowa (UI) to conduct this research, a university in one of the most severe anti-marijuana states of the USA.
The reason UI was chosen was because it has a highly advanced enclosed simulated automobile driving apparatus available, known as the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) used for a wide variety of road vehicle driving study research projects.
And of course a college campus offers willing researchers and participants. I wonder if the researchers recruited willing participants who had some experience with pot, guaranteeing anonymity from law enforcement agencies. After all, Iowa isn’t Colorado.
Part of the reason for controlled testing was because of Colorado’s reports of increased driving accident and fatalities after allowing recreational marijuana use. One wonders how accurate or true those reports were, and how many involved the combination of cannabis and alcohol.
Tim Brown, associate research scientist at NADS and co-author of the UI study explained, “Alcohol is the most common drug present in the system in roadside stops by police; cannabis is the next most common, and cannabis is often paired with alcohol below the legal limits.”
“So the questions are: Is alcohol an issue? Is cannabis an issue? We know alcohol is an issue, but is cannabis an issue or is cannabis an issue when paired with alcohol? We tried to find out.”
The First of Its Kind Testing and Its Results
The UI testing report was published in a June 23, 2015 issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence under the title “Cannabis effects on driving lateral control with and without alcohol”.
The participants were tested on driving skills under three chemically induced altered mental conditions: Alcohol content up to legal limits, cannabis inhaled via vaporizer, and under the influence of both. The vehicle model attached to the simulator was a 1996 Chevy Malibu, both enclosed in a 24 foot diameter dome.
Researchers selected 13 men and five women between the ages of 21 and 37 who had reported drinking alcohol and using marijuana no more than three times a week. Prior to the actual testing conducted over six visits of dosing and driving, the participants checked in for the night at UI medical facilities to ensure sobriety status before testing.
The testing involved close scrutiny of “standard deviations of lateral position” (SDLP), including lane weave, steering angle, and lane departures. Drivers with only alcohol in their systems showed impairment in all three areas. Those strictly under the influence of vaporized cannabis demonstrated problems weaving within the lane only.
But the blood level amount of THC among the weavers within lanes was 13.1 ug/L (micrograms/litter), well beyond the 5 ug/L limit prescribed by Colorado and Washington state laws. And similar weaving within the lane was recorded among those with breathalyzer blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08, the legal BAC limit in all 50 states.
Let’s hear it for the pot people. Their driving was slightly sloppy in one area at over 2.5 times the legal limit of THC blood levels while the boozers had similar weaving within lane issues at the normal legal alcohol content, as well as issues with the other two areas tested where the THC participants had none.
Then mixing the two was tested. “What we saw was an additive effect, not a synergistic effect, when we put them together, added research co-author Brown. “You get what you expect if you take alcohol and cannabis and merge them together.”
In my experience, boozing and smoking pot together is a bad mix that usually only thrill seeking stoners indulge in. Normally pot users, medical or recreational, usually keep alcohol away to enjoy the benefits of cannabis exclusively.
While testing blood levels of alcohol is easy using a breathalyzer, determining THC concentrations is more complicated because of the metabolism involved.
It’s highly probable that reports of marijuana use increasing road fatalities are at least exaggerated, or exclude mixed alcohol cannabis use, or perhaps mostly fabricated.
This Cheech and Chong clip is strictly for grins.
Paul Fassa is a contributing staff writer for REALfarmacy.com. His pet peeves are the Medical Mafia’s control over health and the food industry and government regulatory agencies’ corruption. Paul’s contributions to the health movement and global paradigm shift are well received by truth seekers. Visit his blog by following this link and follow him on Twitter here