‘Hashish regulation more likely to result in extra accidents and deaths’ – Medical doctors for Street Security

Traffic information on Maltese roads

Cannabis leads to impaired judgment, poor motor coordination and reaction time, the Road Safety Doctors (D4RS) warned on Saturday when they published a position paper on driving under the influence of drugs.

In addition, according to D4RS, studies have found a direct link between the THC level in the blood and impaired driving ability, especially in people who consumed cannabis shortly before driving a car.

“The commercialization and increased availability of cannabis is likely to lead to more traffic accidents and deaths, as recent studies abroad have shown. D4RS urges the government to improve legislation on driving while under the influence of drugs (including cannabis), especially when they are taken with alcohol. “

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D4RS also called for increased training and presence of enforcement officers on Maltese roads, as well as the procurement of road tests for drug testing if necessary.

This is because cannabis reform is expected to be approved by parliament on Tuesday, although numerous organizations, academics and individuals have been urged to amend the proposed law before it goes into effect.

In a statement, D4RS said that cannabis-related driving is widespread. A US survey conducted in 2013-2014 found that 12.6% of nighttime weekend drivers tested positive for THC.

“The combination of alcohol with cannabis leads to an additive effect in terms of impaired driving coordination. At present, Maltese law does not mention an increase in penalties for taking drugs and alcohol at the same time, ”the doctors said.

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Claiming cannabis has been linked to increases in road traffic accidents and deaths, D4RS said that while trends in deaths from alcohol-related car accidents remained stable between 2000 and 2018 in the United States (US), the percentage of Deaths from cannabis and cannabis with alcohol more than doubled between 2000 and 2018.

“In the states of Colorado and Washington, road deaths with drivers who tested positive for cannabis have doubled since cannabis was legalized.”

They added that under current Maltese law, applicants or drivers who are addicted to or are not dependent on psychotropic substances but who regularly abuse them are not allowed to have their license issued or renewed regardless of the license class requested.

“When the law comes into effect, will cannabis still be considered a drug of abuse and will consumers be allowed to drive under this law?” Asked the doctors.

D4RS added that in Australia and many European Union countries, the THC concentration used to define a cannabis-related traffic offense has been set between 1 and 2 ng / ml THC in the blood (ng / ml) while this is set at 5 ng / ml. ml in the US.

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“In Maltese law there are currently no such THC concentrations and therefore in Maltese law there is no difference between cannabis-impaired driving and a cannabis-positive driver.”

Regarding street tests for drug poisoning, most developed countries use an oral fluid test, followed later by a formal blood test for THC levels if positive, they said.

Doctors said, however, that no such oral fluid test, also known as approved drug screening equipment, is currently available to police officers in Malta for rapid roadside testing of drugs – including cannabis.