App measure marijuana sobriety

Is driving while stoned a problem? There have been research that shows being high could potentially affect driving. With more states legalizing recreational marijuana, the need to determine guidelines and establish laws that govern driving while high is taking on greater importance.

The problem is that the federal prohibition has prevented research that can address the specific needs of measuring impairment as a result of being stoned. The current tests measure marijuana in the system which does not yield any useful information about impairment. Marijuana, unlike alcohol, can remain in the body for days and weeks after use; a person involved in an accident testing positive for marijuana says nothing about whether marijuana was a factor in the accident.

This limitation of the current testing procedures has resulted in marijuana being blamed for any accident where the driver tests positive. Even in accidents where the driver was clearly drunk, the media coverage has focused on the marijuana.

Researchers from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona are hoping to address the issue of measuring one’s “stonedness”. They have developed a new smartphone app that “uses high-speed cameras to detect involuntary, jerk-like eye movements associated with marijuana use”.

Such movement can actually reveal what’s going on in the brain, and in cases such as this, reveal an impairment, whether temporary or not.

“Today it’s actually used to diagnose brain disease and injury,” Dale said. “For example, it’s used today to diagnose Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. This technology is also used by the United States Marine Corps to train their Apache Attack Helicopter pilots, and what we’re doing is we’re using that same patented technology — which ASU has the patent on — we’re using that technology to look at the signature of the eye to tell us the brain is impaired, but it further tells us what’s impairing it.”

The developers of the app are hoping that will be used as an enforcement tool by officers to gauge marijuana impairment, as well as to educate drivers about effect of marijuana impairment.

It remains to be seen where this all goes. The area is developing so quickly that with more research, there are bound to be additional data on the best course for the whole issue of driving while high.

One thing is for sure, we can’t wait to try it to see if it works!

Source: Statepress : “Researchers develop application to detect driver impairment


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