President Obama signed a bill in December called the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, putting the U.S. Department of Transportation in charge of investigating possible ways to detect cannabis impairment. The new law gives the department one year to submit a list of recommendations which lays out how law enforcement agencies would begin governing marijuana impairment.
This part of the law is going to put Trump’s people in charge of devising a national marijuana impairment standard, similar to the .08% blood alcohol level limit. This operation will be overseen by Trump’s selection for Transportation Secretary, Elaine Chao. Chao is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell who voted yes to increase penalties for drug offenses. Needless to say, she isn’t too keen on the legalization of cannabis.
This new law will most likely lead to more “drugged driving” advertising campaigns being posted across the country. Part of the legislation advises the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to push the dangers of driving while under the influence of opioids.
Most states that have legalized marijuana have already implemented an unsettled standard when it comes to figuring out whether a motorist is high. Because these standards don’t properly measure impairment the same way as a breathalyzer does, the procedures were met with criticism.
A report published by the NHTSA in 2015 found that, “Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.” Researchers could not prove or disprove that marijuana was the only contributing factor in those accidents.
This research could give the United States an accurate way to measure cannabis impairment, but it could also lead to some unreasonable policies that force more legal cannabis users to suffer much stricter drug driving laws.