Last February the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released results of a survey that found a full 22% of U.S. drivers tested positive for driving with some kind of drug in their systems that could affect safety. More than half, 12.6%, were found to have been using marijuana.
Last week, a small company in Oakland, California, said it would begin clinical trials early in 2016 for a breathalyzer that tests for THC as well as alcohol. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.
And while there is evidence that marijuana use impairs psychomotor skills, distracts attention, and affects other cognitive functions, there is also evidence that driving stoned is far less hazardous than driving drunk according to a report from the AP and CBS News last February.
One other issue is that most states have not established a legal limit on the amount of THC in a driver’s bloodstream. In Washington, the initiative that voters passed in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana use did contain a legal limit for THC: 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
The Oakland company, Hound Labs, has competition from a team at Washington State University that is also working on a portable marijuana breathalyzer.
Here are other important news stories for the week.
Newspapers With Marijuana Ads Can’t Be Mailed, Feds Warn
The U.S. Postal Service has warned newspapers that it is a felony to mail material that includes marijuana advertising.
The Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association forwarded the recent federal advisory to its 100 or so members this week. The group’s executive director said the association “strongly discourages” Oregon newspapers that rely on the U.S. mail for delivery from accepting “any type of marijuana advertising.”
“It is against the law,” Laurie Hieb wrote in an email to Oregon newspaper executives this week. “Unfortunately, ONPA cannot do anything about this.”
Read more at Oregonlive.com.
Marijuana Associated With Weight Loss According to New Study, Munchies Be Damned
Although marijuana is famous for causing the munchies, it turns out that despite all the snacking, there isn’t much need for concern about weight gain. According to science, in fact, smoking marijuana might cause people to loseweight. Which is unexpected, but there is an explanation.
According to a new study by researchers from San Diego State University and Cornell, states in which laws were passed permitting medical marijuana, there was a decline in obesity in the state. In fact, legalizing medical marijuana is associated with a 2-6 percent decrease in the probability. And places that adopted medical marijuana also saw a decline of $58 to $115 in per-person costs related to obesity.
“These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that MMLs [medical marijuana laws] may be more likely to induce marijuana use for health-related reasons among older individuals,” the researchers write in the paper, “and cause substitution toward lower-calorie recreational ‘highs’ among younger individuals.”
Read more at Bustle.