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Drive high and get a DUI — Washington seeks reliable test

One of the challenges for the states that have legalized recreational marijuana use has been finding a way to accurately determine whether a person is driving while impaired by pot.

But the nature of the drug makes it hard to determine whether a driver is under the influence of pot. This is because tetrahydrocannabinol, the active ingredient in marijuana that gets users "stoned," does not have the same volatility as alcohol and is harder to identify. Additionally, the timeframe isn't the same for alcohol and weed. Those driving drunk have recently drunk alcohol, whereas someone will still show the presence of THC in one's system hours or days after the effects are long gone.

Some Washington State University scientists are developing a mobile test that can help identify those drivers who are actively "stoned."

The goal is to devise mobile tests that are similar to Breathalyzers that measure alcohol content in the blood. The tests would be used by law enforcement in the field. Presently, drivers are considered to be impaired with five nanograms active THC per blood milliliter.

Researchers are now testing college students as volunteers. The problem is centered on their attempt to "adapt an existing technology to a new problem."

Since marijuana became legal in some states, this will change the way DUIs are handed out. Eventually Kansas may be effected by the new technologies. Until then, those suspected of impaired driving after smoking marijuana may have to dispute the charges based on traditional evidence gathering techniques. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney may be in your best interest.

Source: The Columbian, "WSU scientists developing Breathalyzer-type pot test," Lauren Dake, Aug. 24, 2015

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