Like we don’t already have enough on our minds with the coronavirus pandemic surging, the economy collapsing and keeping up with a massive. legitimate and overdue social disruption, the federal government is overseeing an hysterical series of ads about the potential horrors of driving while high on weed.
Produced in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Ad Council, the first of what is meant to be a run of TV and radio spots portrays two men running for their lives from a balaclava-wearing axe murderer. One of the men is rattling off, in what can only be compared to the Act of Contrition, the many reasons why not to drive stoned.
When they finally make it back to the safety of their car, the driver turns to his friend and says: “I can’t drive. I’m high.” They swap seats like dutiful citizens and drive off, the non-stoner behind the wheel.
The zany 90-second PSA targets young men aged 18 to 35, “many of whom reject the common stereotypes of marijuana users – and reminds viewers that if you feel different, you drive different,” according to the Ad Council’s website.
Within the chasm that divides supporters of cannabis legalization from prohibitionists, lies an issue that most people seem to agree upon: detecting cannabis-induced impairment in drivers is complicated.
When it comes to cannabis, everyone is affected differently so how can its effect be determined from person to person?
That standard, adopted by Congress in 2000, is generally accepted among law enforcement personnel, although on several occasions the National Transportation Safety Board has floated a request to lower the BAC even more, ruffling feathers in the alcohol industry.
Setting standards for driving while stoned continues to baffle lawmakers. Even if cannabis was measurable in a person’s system, translating that information into an estimation of its relative effect on one’s motor skills is a challenge.
Scientists, pharmacologists, and inventors are racing to develop devices to measure if — and to what extent — cannabis impairment can be determined.
“In terms of measuring being stoned, police officers don’t really care if you’re high. What they care about is whether you’re impaired,” said Adrian Moore, vice president of policy at the Reason Foundation. Moore is also a national transportation expert and consultant.
“We can measure whether there is THC in your system, but that’s not well correlated at all with being impaired,” Moore said.