Testing for cannabis influence while driving, local expert weighs in

Testing for cannabis influence while driving, local expert weighs in.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 10:02 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – 24-year-old Dylan Yocum was driving a Honda Accord headed southbound on Broadway Monday evening when he rear-ended a truck, sending it into the northbound lane, hitting another car and then into the ditch.

One person was seriously injured and air lifted to the hospital. They are expected to recover. The responding deputy noticed Yocum’s car smelled like marijuana.

Nick Jacobson, a certified phlebotomist and drug recognition specialist, said since an officer had a suspicion Yocum was under the influence of marijuana, it warrants a chemical collection of either blood of urine, but a urine sample can have its flaws.

“For a urine test you can only find out whether it’s there or whether it’s not there. A blood test becomes very valuable when someone was hurt or injured because we don’t want to know if it’s there. We want to know how much of its there,” Jacobson explained.

A blood test can determine if the person was actively impaired by cannabis through examining levels of concentrate in the blood. Results to detect cannabis use can take any from four to six months.

“When it comes to cannabis, it’s not your grandparents weed anymore I guess is the best way to put it. The THC levels now in cannabis are way higher,” Jacobson said.

Jacobson explained if someone used cannabis weeks prior, it may still be in your system, but if you weren’t impaired at the time of driving, you cannot be charged with a DWI.

“We’re not keying in on that. We’re not keying in on somebody that embraces the marijuana culture. It’s I smell weed, have you been smoking weed in the car in the last couple hours because that’s what it smells like to me,” Jacobson said.

Authorities may not have a set field sobriety test for cannabis but are trained to follow a 12-step protocol and examine things like the pupils, body temperature, behavior and blood pressure.