In an effort to better understand the ways cannabis use impacts traffic safety, UC San Diego is conducting a virtual driving study that tests how driving high impacts the ability to respond to common challenges on the roadway. The study, the largest of its kind to date, is being conducted by the college’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research. And to make sure they’re attracting the right candidates, researchers are paying people to smoke weed for the study.
For Participants, It Pays To Drive High
If the idea of getting paid to smoke weed and get behind the wheel sounds good to you, you’re in luck. UC San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research is still recruiting participants for its study on cannabis and driving.
And for the study’s participants, it pays to drive high. The CMCR is giving participants $50 for an initial appointment. But when participants come back for their full day assessment, UCSD is prepared to drop an additional $180.
Those involved in the study will have their work cut out for them. Besides a long day of simulated driving, there’s no guarantee a participant will even get high.
Anyone participating in the study, however, will get to smoke a joint. The study’s design involves administering joints rolled on site and of varying THC concentrations. Some have none, while others are high-potency.
Researchers want to know how different cannabis doses impact a person’s ability to drive. Timing is another variable the study will examine. If a person consumes cannabis in the morning, how long will their high last? And at what point is a person no longer under the influence of cannabis?
Study Wants To Find When It’s Safe To Drive After Consuming Cannabis
CMCR’s study is investigating these questions because traffic safety continues to be a priority issue in states with legal adult-use cannabis. Concerns about drivers under the influence of cannabis are omnipresent in policy discussions about legalization.
And not without good reason, according to Tom Marcotte, Co-Director of UC San Diego’s CMCR. Marcotte says cannabis absolutely impacts driving.
But the study isn’t only about providing data to support that claim. It also aims to figure out how long it takes the average person to sober up after cannabis use.
And that, Marcotte says, could help cannabis users make smarter decisions about whether they should pick up the keys or get a ride.
The study will also analyze how well high drivers react to common road challenges, like making a left turn against traffic or deciding whether to brake or roll through a yellow light.
Marcotte says drivers under the influence of cannabis definitely struggle with some common driving tasks. Swerving and braking seem to be particularly affected.
Cannabis and Driving Study Will Help Law Enforcement Detect High Drivers
After smoking a joint and taking their turn on the research center’s driving simulator, participants will have to take a field sobriety test.
And that, in turn, could help cops better detect high drivers. For now, officers rely on field sobriety tests to check for cannabis intoxication. But the cognitive nature of cannabis’ effects makes it hard to know for sure whether a person is too impaired to drive.
With the data from CMCR’s study, however, officers could develop field sobriety tests better calibrated to cannabis.
Finally, the study will collect blood and saliva samples from participants. This will help researchers determine what level of driving aptitude corresponds to THC amounts in those fluids.
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