Cannabis-friendly Colorado doctors want to help you understand how difficult it is to measure cannabis impairment by testing your blood and saliva – both before and after you get high. Cannabis Clinicians Colorado, a nonprofit group dedicated to supporting caregivers, patients and physicians, will hold a public research event this weekend in Lakewood to educate consumers on impairment, and how inadequate current state systems are.
How to accurately measure impairment has been one of the largest problems plaguing the legal cannabis industry; it confounded health and law-enforcement officials long before recreational legalization began, but after Amendment 64 passed, the state had to develop protocols to measure impairment no matter how little information was available.
The state currently labels impairment as a blood limit of five nanograms of THC. However, nanograms aren’t necessarily indicative of impairment, notes CCC event organizer Melanie Rodgers. “For this, you can’t regulate marijuana like alcohol, because we don’t have a proper system in place,” she says. “How do you rate impairment? I think a lot of patients have five nanograms in them or more at all times, whether they’re impaired or not.”
Westword‘s William Breathes tested higher than that in 2011 when he got his blood drawn fifteen hours after he’d last smoked cannabis. The doctor noted that Breathes, a medical marijuana patient, was in no way incapacitated, but the THC level in his blood was 13.5 nanograms – nearly three times the legal limit today. Technology hasn’t improved enough since then for Colorado to adopt new standards, though research continues on cannabis breathalyzers and other forms of detection.
CCC’s event will use current testing methods, which rely on blood and saliva, on consumers and medical patients (21+) before any of them are impaired; the doctors will also test cognitive functions. The test subjects will then