Cannabis and driving: The situation in Europe
In Europe, three million people consume cannabis every day. Investigations showed that more than two thirds of drug users drive after having smoked cannabis. Epidemiological studies show that between 0.5% and 8.2% of the general driving population is positive for cannabis. For drivers wounded or deceased as a result of an accident, the percentage varies respectively from 3.3% to 10% and from 2.2% to 8.4%. Finally, very high percentages are found in the studies which analysed the presence of drugs in drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs: more than 50% in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Six European countries adopted an analytical or 'per se' legislation and the cut-offs vary between 0.3 and 2 ng/mL THC. In the Netherlands, experimental studies carried out after administration of cannabis clearly showed the impairing effects, in particular in the event of simultaneous consumption of cannabis and alcohol. Various research projects financed by the European Union studied the epidemiologic aspects (IMMORTAL), detection by psychotechnical tests (CERTIFIED) and roadside drug detection (ROSITA and ROSITA-2).
Available from: Maria Stefanidou
- "The question that often arises in traffic accident cases is whether or not a driver was driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) or whether it is possible to determine the relationship between blood THC concentration and driver impairment. Various recent projects have been financed by the European Union, particularly because it has been determined that more than two thirds of drug users in Europe drive after having smoked cannabis (Raes and Verstraete 2006). Recent data suggest that drivers with a measur- able 9 -THC concentration (>1 ng/ml) have an elevated crash risk (Ramaekers et al. 2002; Mura et al. 2003; Drummer et al. 2004). "
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ABSTRACT: The process of toxicological analysis of postmortem specimens can reveal some special difficulty compared to the clinically derived specimens. Many drugs are not stable and the chemical changes that occur in the specimens, due to the hydrolysis processing, the time passed, the drug metabolism, and matrix effect, even when the postmortem interval is short, may affect the interpretation of the toxicological results. This interpretation may be critical, not only to the thorough investigation of different kind of forensic cases, but also to clinical or other cases as it provides very significant challenges to the scientists. This article reviews (a) particular toxicological issues associated with some toxic substances responsible for common lethal or nonlethal poisonings, such as opiates, cannabis, and cocaine and the vast number of factors that affect drug concentration; and (b) focuses on toxicological issues associated with the analytical findings of certain postmortem specimens. The toxic substances cited in the present paper are the most commonly found in forensic cases in Greece. The investigation of these drug-related deaths has revealed that heroin, alone or in combination with other psychoactive substances, such as cannabis and cocaine, is the main drug involved in these deaths.
Available from: Inmaculada Fierro
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ABSTRACT: The role of illicit drugs on driving, and particularly of cannabis and driving, is the object of increasing awareness. While there is increasing evidence of their effect on psychomotor performance and increased risk of involvement in traffic accidents, limited information is available concerning factors that can predict the likelihood of driving under the influence of cannabis. The present study aims to determine the past year prevalence of driving under the influence of cannabis, and of being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a person under the influence of cannabis, as well as to examine the correlations with a broad range of potential risk factors. A total of 2500 people, aged between 14 and 70 and living in Castille and Leon (Spain), were surveyed in 2004 with regard to their consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs. Among those who reported cannabis use in the previous year, further assessment was carried out. 15.7% of those surveyed reported cannabis consumption in the previous 12 months, of whom 9.7% reported driving a vehicle under the influence of cannabis during this period, on average eight times. One out of five (19.9%) reported being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a person under the influence of cannabis, on average five times in the previous 12 months. The predictors of driving under the influence of cannabis were the population size of community, the number of drugs consumed, reference to cannabis-related problems and to being a passenger in a vehicle driven by a person under the influence of alcohol. The data show that cannabis consumption and driving is common, and requires more attention from policy makers.
Available from: Tomas Zabransky
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ABSTRACT: The aim of the study was to determine the prevalence of psychotropic drug use in active participants in traffic accidents who died during the accident or shortly after it due to injuries resulting from the accident.
A special mortality register containing data of all forensic autopsies was analysed. The studied sample consisted of persons who died during traffic accidents and were active participants in those ones (pedestrians, cyclists, or drivers), and were toxicologically tested during the forensic examination.
The sample consisted of 1,213 cases, 1,039 (85.7%) males and 174 (14.3%) females who died in 2003-2005. Ethanol was found in 34.7% of cases, however a significant declining trend over the years was noted. The proportion of positive detections for any psychotropic drug other than alcohol was 7.2%; benzodiazepines were found most frequently (3.6%), followed by cannabis (2.2%), and stimulants (1.7% of the sample). Positive findings of ethanol were significantly more common among males, whereas positive benzodiazepine tests were more frequent in females. Positive cases were significantly younger than negative ones for ethanol, volatile substances, stimulants, and cannabis; in cases of positive medicaments tests, the positive cases were significantly older than the negatives.
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