President-elect Donald Trump’s administration will be forced to explore methods for controlling stoned driving when it takes control of the federal government later this month.
In December, President Obama signed a bill called the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), putting the U.S. Department of Transportation in charge of investigating possible approaches for detecting marijuana impairment along the great American landscape.
The new law gives the department 12 months to submit a list of suggestions detailing how law enforcement agencies might begin policing cannabis impairment in a manner similar to how they handle alcohol.
Basically, this portion of the law is going to put Trump’s people in charge of creating a national marijuana impairment standard similar to the ever so popular 0.08 percent blood alcohol content limit that is kryptonite to boozehounds cruising the nation’s highways.
This mission will be overseen by Trump’s selection for Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao, who is not likely the biggest fan of marijuana legalization, considering she is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—a lawmaker who has voted “Yes” to increasing the penalties for drug offenses.
Nevertheless, the new law will also lead to more “drugged driving” advertising campaigns being broadcast across the country. Part of the legislation instructs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to wax creative with the White House over a new crusade to push the dangers of driving under the influence of heroin and opioid medications.
Most states that have legalized the leaf have already implemented a shaky standard when it comes to determining whether a motorist is under the influence of marijuana. But these procedures, including blood and saliva tests, have been met with substantial criticism because they do not properly gauge impairment in the same way as a breathalyzer does for alcohol.
A report published in 2015 by the NHTSA found that, “Marijuana users were about 25 percent more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use,” but researchers could not prove that pot was the sole contributing factor in any of those accidents.
Overall, this study could end up giving the United States an accurate instrument for measuring marijuana impairment, but it could also lead to some unreasonable policies that force more legal marijuana users to suffer the wrath of overzealous drug driving laws.
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