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Marijuana Can Impair Driving For A Day Or More After Use

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Mesa police are arresting more drivers for drug impairment, saying prescription drug abuse and Arizona’s medical marijuana law are contributing to the problem.


Drug DUIs now make up a majority of impaired driving arrests in Mesa for the first time. The number of drug-impaired drivers has grown for years but it has spiked more recently, said Mesa Sgt. David Miecke. Fifty-two percent of DUIs issued last year in the city were for drugs, he said.


“For us to think that there’s more people out there driving on drugs than alcohol is startling,” Miecke said. “It’s harder to detect a drug-impaired person than an alcohol-impaired person.”


Marijuana impairment has grown over time, he said. But it accelerated as Arizona was debating the 2010 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana, and boomed after its success, he said.


Police saw a big increase in drug impairment during a DUI task force that spanned December, he said. Fifty-six percent of DUIs during the holidays were for drugs in 2011, compared with just 16 percent in 2002.


Arizona’s medical marijuana law doesn’t exempt users from DUIs, and police can arrest drivers for the slightest degree of impairment for alcohol, prescription drugs and illegal substances. An increasing number of drivers flaunt the law, Miecke said.


“They’re pretty confident that just because they have that card, that they can be smoking at will and through their daily lives,” he said. “They seem to think that’s OK, they can do whatever they want.”


Marijuana can impair driving for a day or more after use, he said.


The drug-impaired drivers have ranged from teenagers to people in their 70s. Miecke said the death of Whitney Houston, whose substance abuse problem may have contributed to her passing, shows how widespread prescription drug abuse has become.


“It touches everybody, across all ages, all economic statuses and races,” he said. “People are using more prescription medications and it’s very easy to abuse them and easy to obtain them, even if you don’t have a prescription.”


Miecke expects marijuana-impaired drivers will become even more common as dispensaries open, which is expected over the summer.


Drug-impaired drivers exhibit the same behaviors on the road as drunk drivers, including delayed response time. Detecting alcohol use is easy and inexpensive with a breath test, but there’s no equivalent for drugs.


Portable machines cost thousands of dollars, and each test is expensive. Most police take a suspect’s blood and have it tested in a lab, but Miecke said a backlog in Arizona can make police wait up to a year for results. Mesa recently started its own lab to get results within a month or two.


Police have responded to the increase in drug use with improved training so they are better at detecting impairment and documenting it for prosecution.


“To think that we’re not doing something about it or to think you might be able to get away with it, that’s a fallacy,” Miecke said. “Seventeen hundred went away to jail last year here in Mesa for DUI drugs.”


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Article here.




This is becoming more then scary . Many patients are suffering more then they can tolerate without adjunctive or solo treatment involving cannabis .These severe symtoms can negatively effect driving if left untreated . .


Statistics are available from the Government that support about 1 in 4 drivers take 3 or more prescriptions a day . Can you imagine the effect on our Countries GDP if none of them were allowed to drive , work or access education . Until legal medical cannabis the Governments policy for Marinol or synthetic THC was to excersize caution when using heavy machinery or driving . Anyone that has ever taken marinol knows the effects take much more concentration to overcome and it has a withdrawl profile . As with any medication keeping stable blood plasma levels is important to many patients .


It is not unusual for a patient to have a blood level of over 50 ng the 2 ng and 5 ng laws some States have passed are really zero tolerance in disguise . They should never apply to medical patients with recommendations .

Edited by Croppled1
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I liked this reasoning...


Police saw a big increase in drug impairment during a DUI task force that spanned December, he said. Fifty-six percent of DUIs during the holidays were for drugs in 2011, compared with just 16 percent in 2002


So, you're saying that once police started testing many more drivers for drug impairment, they started to arrest more drivers for drug impairment. I guess that would make sense.


When the uninformed sees a 40% (56% - 16%) rise in drugged driving arrests however, it sounds like some new threat on the highways....supposedly attributable to medical marijuana usage. It is kind of aggravating that they distort the facts so much to try to deceive.


More and more it seems that many in this fight against marijuana are in some fashion trying to protect their own job. LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) is a prime example of this. Once retired from law enforcement, these folks speak out against arrests as counterproductive but when they are still employed, they support marijuana arrests 'to keep us safe and to protect the children'

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id say that is not entirely true Wash..at least where LEAP is concerned.


many Officers are interested in LEAP< and joining While on duty. But if they do they are FIRED for Conflicts of Interests...


while I understand they need to work. I would sincerely HOPE those Officers that are still employed will use their personal views of LEAP and utilize that while on duty.

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The mysterious part of these impaired driving claims would seem to be the result of some type of driving infraction that resulted in them being stopped by LEO for such. Is this where they surmised that the infraction was related to the physical condition of the driver? And were subsequentley forced to undergo further testing such as the walking a straight line, touch the end of their nose or if it is the result of an accident and some chemical analysys type of interrogation is necessary.


However none of this type of colaborative information is provided, indicationg they were only interested in promoting a directed political statistical misconception. [Propaganda]


Not even a graph !

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Article was written by a complete idiot. As of January 27, 2012 there are 267 registered patients in Mesa. Population of Mesa is 167,000. The article is written indicating that 1700 hundred people went to jail for drug DUI in 2010 when there were NO registered patients in Mesa. Cop mislead (lied) reporter mislead (lied). Is anyone shocked that in a Republican state this could happen. I spent February in Phoenix.

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  • 1 month later...

I just dont believe it can impair up to a day after use. its in your system just like other drugs except its stored by the body because its good unlike alchol and perscription meds.

I believe a driver is better on thc and canabis. so lets get off the kick on trying to fix what the judicial system is tyring to con us into. It has little to no effect on driving this is way beyond getting high and dope hemp kept me alive thats the bottom line. after 35 years of driving the only time i ever got in trouble is when i did not smoke.

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