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Study confirms complexity of marijuana’s effects on body

In our last couple posts, we’ve been speaking about medical marijuana use here in Maryland and the challenges medical marijuana patients face when it comes to avoiding drugged driving charges. As we’ve pointed out, the unique properties of marijuana make it a challenge to accurately determine the extent to which a driver who has taken the drug is currently under the drug’s influence, even with the use of a marijuana breathalyzer.

This observation applies not only to how long the drug remains in the body—much longer than alcohol—but also as to the interaction of marijuana with other substances. In particular, a recent study has shown that using marijuana in combination with alcohol results in a significantly higher concentration of THC than using marijuana alone. Combining alcohol and marijuana, experts conclude, increases the degree of impairment. 

As has been pointed out, the research does not offer any light on the issue of whether cannabis intoxication increases the risk of causing accidents. Apparently, no definitive conclusions have been reached on the specifics of that issue, though research will most certainly be ongoing.

The research is just another reminder of the complexities of how marijuana affects the human body, and of the need for the criminal system to clarify how it handles evidence of marijuana intoxication so as to ensure accuracy and fairness to defendants while managing the concern for public safety.

For those who choose to legally use marijuana, whether for medical purposes or—where it is permitted—for recreational purposes, there is always the risk that one will be targeted for drugged driving even when such charges are improper. Navigating the legal system can be a challenge in these cases, but working with an experienced attorney can help ensure that one’s rights are protected. 

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