Should Marijuana Be Part Of A Sobriety Test?

Marijuana has an interesting reputation in law, government, and addiction treatment. “Marijuana maintenance” is a term used in twelve step communities to describe people who give up their drugs of choice- like alcohol or heroin- but continue using marijuana. As many states continue their progress toward Marijuana legalization or medicalization, many others, like law enforcement officials, are concerned about the open and widespread use of marijuana. Whether or not marijuana can cause addiction is still an open debate, however, the DSM-V, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual added “marijuana use disorder” which is a broad way to describe marijuana dependency. Repeated and consistent marijuana use can cause symptoms of dependency such as inability to eat, sleep, or focus without the drug, anxiety without the drug, and cravings to get high.

Though marijuana is proven to have immense medical benefit for diseases like cancer and autism, it is still a mind-altering substance which can cause intoxication. It is entirely possible to become intoxicated on marijuana to the point of impairment or incapacitation. Referred to as being “burned”, “scorched”, “torched”, or just plain “stoned”, being high on marijuana can be problematic. For example, someone who is under the influence of marijuana to the point of impairment is a danger and risk while operating a moving vehicle.

Whereas law enforcement officials have breathalyzers and sobriety tests to judge whether or not someone is DUI (driving under the influence) of alcohol, there is no measurable test for marijuana. Stanford University researchers recently announced the development of a “potalyzer” tool which would be the marijuana equivalent to a breathalyzer. However, there is currently no legal standard for how much THC, the active molecule in marijuana which causes intoxication, would indicate danger. The new device would measure both the amount of THC and the concentration as some marijuana contains higher amounts.

Comically, it might make sense for a marijuana sobriety test to include level of hunger, level of paranoia, and untimely laughter. Laughing matters aside, marijuana use can commonly be a partner to the use of harder drugs and alcohol, leading to cross intoxication. Being under the influence of multiple mind-altering substances puts a driver, and surrounding drivers, at higher risk.

A benefit of prosecuting alcohol DUI drivers includes mandatory attendance to residential inpatient, intensive outpatient, or a series of twelve step meetings. Since marijuana is so closely tied to abuse of other substances, testing for marijuana sobriety could result in more people receiving treatment.

Aurora Recovery Center serves to provide the highest level of quality treatment to men and women seeking recovery from substance abuse and dual diagnosis mental health disorders. For more information on our treatment programs for addiction and mental health, call 844-515-STOP

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