UCSD to Study Effects of Marijuana on Driving

Researchers at UC San Diego are launching a three-year study on the impact of marijuana on driving ability.

With the potential for California to legalize marijuana in November, local researchers are aiming to study how pot impacts a driver, how quickly that impairment wears off and how to measure it.

Surprisingly, those details have not yet been fully studied.

“We have very few tools available to determine whether a person is impaired while they’re driving under the influence of cannabis,” said Tom Marcotte, whose UCSD team is heading the study.

The study will begin in September and will entail collecting marijuana from the federal government and have subjects undergo a simulated driving test.

The complicated part is that the effects of marijuana on the blood are a lot different than alcohol.

“The chemical THC increases very rapidly in your blood when you smoke and then it pretty much disappears from your blood within an hour. But people will tell you they’re still high,” said Dr. Igor Grant of UCSD.

The public study will cost $1.8 million.

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