Two states have decided to legalize marijuana for recreational usage. California has not done so thus far. Some people believe that one of the reasons that California did not become the first state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana through Proposition 19 in 2010 was that people were worried about the lack of a specific amount you count drive with it in your system.
Marijuana Vs. Alcohol
In this respect, alcohol is much easier to test for. Your body metabolizes the alcohol quickly, and a simple breath test will semi-accurately determine exactly how much is in your system. We have then determined that it is unsafe for you to drive with over .08% blood alcohol level in your blood.
Marijuana however, does not metabolize quickly. It can stay in your system for weeks at a time. And even then, how much can you have in your system and still be safe to drive? One of the two states with legalized marijuana, Washington, has a legal limit of THC that you have to be under to drive: 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood. I don’t know how much pot you’d have to smoke to get to this level. I don’t know if anyone knows exactly how much you can or cannot smoke and then drive. The safe bet is to not smoke and drive.
Canadian Marijuana Breathalyzers
However, if you do smoke and drive, a new invention may cause problems for you. A Canadian company has come out with a product known as the Cannabix Breathalyzer. This breathalyzer is specifically for marijuana. But there is a huge issue with it: it cannot test impairment levels. The only thing that the Cannabix Breathalyzer can do is determine if you’ve smoked recently (they claim two hours, but there is a suggestion that this will be different depending upon how much and how often one smokes).
So, if you’re pulled over and suspected of smoking, and the Cannabix is used on you, it can only determine if you’ve smoked, not how much. The next step will be a blood test or an oral swab (in select Southern California Counties only currently) to determine how much THC is in your blood stream. We run into the same issue we had before, THC is fat soluble and stays in the body for weeks. Someone who smoked a week ago, might test positive as being over Washington’s 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter blood limit, though obviously not impaired.
California does not have a hard and fast limit to how much THC you can have in your blood, currently the prosecution must prove you were actually impaired. However, with another vote for recreational usage coming in November 2014, it is likely that a hard and fast number like alcohol is coming. Again, you shouldn’t drive while stoned, but hopefully this post has gotten you to think that there are a lot of issues which would need to be explored if you get pulled over and your THC levels checked.