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Study uses field sobriety tests to test THC intoxication levels

The legalization of marijuana in Colorado has been a conundrum for authorities to figure out how to determine if a driver is impaired by marijuana. Current law states that a person with 5 nanograms of THC in his or her blood system is unsafe to operate a vehicle. Advocates argue that the blood test and the designated limit are not accurate and fair measurements of marijuana intoxication. A recent study that included field sobriety tests was conducted to help better understand levels of intoxication.

A clinician group held a public study that consisted of a one-day study for participants. Participants were asked to answer questions and performed field sobriety tests prior to consuming any marijuana. Blood and saliva samples were also obtained in their sober state.

As part of the study, participants were then asked to smoke marijuana in a safe and controlled environment. Participants were asked to stop smoking once they reached a level that they would not feel comfortable operating a vehicle. Questionnaires were again filled out, and field, blood and saliva tests also occurred in their intoxicated state. The results of the tests are unknown, but the study was filmed in anticipation that it might have educational benefits for law enforcement.

Without a standard way to currently measure levels of marijuana in a person's system, it can be tricky for law enforcement to determine if a person is driving under the influence. Unfortunately for marijuana consumers, the determination is sometimes subjective to an officer's opinion in how a driver performs field sobriety tests. Anyone who feels he or she has been wrongly accused of a DUI related to marijuana use could benefit from the advice and support of a Colorado criminal defense attorney. 

Source:, "Advocacy group wants to know how high is too high to drive", Jordan Chavez, Aug. 27, 2017

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