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UC San Diego researchers are paying people to get high

An additional 80 volunteers are required to participate in this study on the effects of cannabis on drivers

Alamy

Alamy

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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California boasts a fierce and competitive cannabis market that is expected to surpass $5.1 billion in market value over the next year. As cannabis consumption rises in The Golden State, so does the need for cannabis research into the plant’s health and safety effects.

This is why a team of devoted researchers from UC San Diego are delving into the effects of cannabis on driving – an understudied area of research that could help determine the impact that cannabis’ psychoactive compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) has on a driver’s performance.

The researchers will also explore other facets of cannabis science by conducting clinical trials. So far, 100 volunteers have participated in the study, with a further 80 expected to get involved.

UCSD and California Highway Patrol study the effects of cannabis on driving

This study on the effects of cannabis on driving is being conducted by UCSD’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR). University researchers collaborated with the California Highway Patrol to carry out the research. It was approved by the California Legislature. With 180 volunteers, it is the biggest study of its kind to date.

UCSD researchers will use their findings to analyze the duration of driving impairment from initial consumption and the influence that specific dosages of THC have on the study subject’s driving performance.

Furthermore, the clinical trials will ascertain whether or not iPad technology can be adopted in sobriety testing. Researchers will figure out if expired air or saliva can be used in judicial hearings as an alternative to blood sampling.

Clinical trials involved the use of placebos and THC

During the clinical trials, study subjects were asked to inhale cannabis by smoking, before undertaking a driving simulation. THC dosage varied from high to low. Participants either inhaled a placebo, or joints containing between 6.7 and 12.6 percent THC.

“If you smoked this morning are you impaired throughout the day? Are you impaired for a couple of hours? Or are you not impaired? We’re trying to answer that,” asked the co-director of the CMCR, Tom Marcotte.

According to Marcotte, it is more difficult to ascertain if a driver is under the influence of cannabis than alcohol. Frequent cannabis consumers may function in a completely normal way, even when they have high levels of the mind-altering cannabinoid THC in their system.

Bodily fluid draws (saliva, blood and breath) will be taken from the study subjects both before cannabis consumption and hourly over the following seven hours. In the hopes of finding new and reliable field sobriety tests that law enforcement can potentially use, researchers, will use the iPad tests to monitor motor control, attention, and memory.

More people are wanted for UCSD cannabis research study

This isn’t the first time that the scientists at the CMCR have been carrying out trials of this kind. Back in 2000, researchers started investigating the ways in which a person’s health and daily life may be impacted by cannabis and cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD (cannabidiol).  

An additional 80 volunteers are required to participate in this study on the effects of cannabis on drivers. You can apply here.

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UC San Diego researchers are paying people to get high