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Pot smokers prove they’re good drivers

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    Would drinkers who'd surpassed three (or more) times the legal blood alcohol limit have performed so well?

A CNN report found people who had smoked a small amount of marijuana still drove competently.

Back in November, voters in the US states of Colorado and Washington legalised the recreational use of marijuana. And despite US federal laws prohibiting pot possession, American President Obama has said that arresting users in those two states isn't a top priority.

Which is fine, but now, law enforcement officials have to set specific limits on what counts as driving under the influence for marijuana smokers.

Though several states have legalised medical marijuana, none had established an acceptable THC blood content level for drivers. Basically, any motorist found driving with THC in their system was guilty of driving under the influence -- even if that THC came from legally sanctioned medicinal marijuana.

With the passage of Initiative 502, however, Washington state set an official threshold of 5 nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood. Though the bill's authors insist that level is based on significant scientific evidence [PDF], some claim that it's completely arbitrary.

How does 5 nanograms of THC affect drivers? CNN wanted to find out, so the network found an open test course in Washington state and three drivers willing to devote their lungs to an afternoon of "scientific" research.

You can judge CNN's findings for yourself by watching the clip below. Some outlets like the New York Post think it represents a huge fail for stoners; others like LA Weekly, see the pot-smokers performing pretty well.

Our take? We admit that the test subjects make a few flubs on the course. However, we also note that CNN has to get them well above the legal THC threshold to see any effect on their driving -- and by the time they reach that point, all three recognize that they shouldn't be behind the wheel.

Would drinkers who'd surpassed three (or more) times the legal blood alcohol limit have performed so well? 

Comments on this story

Displaying 3 of 10 comments

  • I would do this fine. That cop wanted expect a thing. HAHAHAHAHA!

    Benjay Posted on 14 July 2013 6:42pm
  • Definately fishy. No control, users who lie about their usage and not nearly enough test subjects. Also it is arguable that none of the 3 tested would try to drive if they were that stoned. Also arguable that one person may drive better than another reagrdless and that some people have higher tolerance to the effects of being stoned. I know people who drive stoned every day for 20 years+ and they drive very well and have never had an accident or caused one. I think prescription drugs are more likely cause for concern when it comes to road safety. Being tiredness and illness are also safety issues, but I guess the police don't look like the good guys if they hassle people about how tired or well they feel. This poor drug is simply an easy target for the dumb, the lazy, the ignorant and the ruthless to shoot at. These comments may be edited, seriously, what a joke. Sad media.

    shangers cardy of the best place Posted on 28 February 2013 1:14pm
  • I can smoke way more weed than that and still drive fine. That test wasnt that good and they should use variables like samuel posted

    Piff Daddy of Michigan Posted on 28 February 2013 3:04am
  • The reason drunk driving is so dangerous has nothing to do with reaction times and everything to do with the way alcohol removes inhibition. A leglessly drunk 19 year has way better reaction times than a stone cold sober 80 year old. The difference is the 80 year old slows down to compensate (as does a pot smoker) The drunk kid just thinks he's Sebastian Loeb and will wrap himself around a lamppost in fairly short order.

    Chris. Posted on 27 February 2013 11:15pm
  • Backing into a pole? It's hard to compare a cone to a pole. On the rode we are more aware, I failed my driving test twice, and I've never had an accident or even a small mess up. This shouldn't be the final conclusion for driving over the influence. Also, how could driving too slow be bad? More test should be done before being publicly announced, giving people the wrong opinion. The test's are totally flawed due to the fact that there was no controlled variable! If CNN should support the national legalization of marijuana they should be more extensive with there research. A small town should conduct a large test to show false 'facts' around the nation.

    Randy Walker of Port Saint Lucie, FL Posted on 27 February 2013 3:00pm
  • Wow, lots of flaws with this test. First, there was no control variable whatsoever. None of the drivers were made to drive fully sober. Second, they completely failed to test reaction time and focus. A good test would have simulated traffic lights, distractions, and dangers such as objects jumping out in front of them. I'd suspect marijuana would have severely impacted their ability to react to these real-world driving scenarios, yet the test completely glazed over them. Finally, there's no way they were going to be able to gauge when to stop while backing up because the cone is way too short to be visible. A better test would have involved an actual pole, visible through the rear window. They might as well have had them drive through the course blindfolded and drawn conclusions from that. Basically, this test completely skipped over various real-world driving scenarios which I'm certain would have been impacted by marijuana usage, assessed their ability basically based on whether they could drive in a straight line or not, lacked a control variable, and set them up to fail with the backing up portion. All in all, this test was completely worthless and tells us nothing useful.

    Samuel Posted on 27 February 2013 12:48pm
  • it really actually depends on the person. marijuana affect people differently.

    done worry aboutit Posted on 27 February 2013 6:32am
  • Where were the medical professionals ? What I seen there was cannqbis that we were not told how strong it was . 2 weekend users who had no cannabis in their system ? Considering cannabis lasts in your system for a minium of 30 days they were not weekend drivers and the police who wanted the test to fail because a change in law will effect their budget and its already pissing them off because they cannot use cannabis anymore to arrest someone or beat the odd black person for being caught with a gram . That test in all was a shambles and all leaned twarf making cannabis into an evil monster as usual .

    Stephen smoker supporter of belfast Posted on 23 February 2013 2:12am
  • They are most dangerous at intersections, because pot distorts your perception of time and so may make you misjudge the movement of yours and other drivers cars, leading to collisions. These tests didn't show that.

    Colin den Ronden of Philippines Posted on 22 February 2013 1:55pm
  • And if the test was ramped up with other vehicles and pedestrians that "sprang out", traffic lights that changed, skids, emergency braking, lane changes at speed and other "real world" obstacles - they would have all failed dismally on the first attempt. The Police should have made that test a little more indicative of real driving and not some slow speed manoeuvr course.

    Mick of QLD Posted on 22 February 2013 11:51am
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