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WIRE: American Automobile Assn. study says THC thresholds for driving aren’t scientific

Washington, DC: Per se limits for THC are arbitrary and may misclassify drivers who are not behaviorally impaired, according to the findings of a study published this week by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety.

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Per se driving limits criminalize the act of operating a motor vehicle if the driver possesses detectable amounts of specific drugs or drug metabolites above a set threshold. Under these laws, drivers are guilty per se of violating the traffic safety laws even absent evidence of demonstrable impairment.

Five states – Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington – presently impose per se limits for the detection of specific amounts of THC in blood while eleven states (Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Utah, and Wisconsin) impose zero tolerant per se standards.

However, the AAA report concluded, “[A] quantitative threshold for per se laws for THC following cannabis use cannot be scientifically reported.” This is because the body metabolizes THC in a manner that is significantly distinct from alcohol.

The Automobile Association’s finding is similar to that of the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which acknowledges: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. … It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone.”

NORML has long held a similar position.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

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