A chief concern relating to marijuana consumption is its ability to impair function in the hours immediately following consumption. In simple terms, there are concerns that marijuana hangovers could make it dangerous for cannabis uses to drive, use heavy equipment, etc. But a recently released study seems to suggest such concerns aren’t warranted.
The study noted a lack of evidence proving the existence of the marijuana hangover. If no such hangover is present under normal circumstances, there is less reason to treat marijuana any differently than alcohol from an impairment standpoint. But it should be noted that the researchers behind the study have not declared the marijuana hangover a myth. They have simply said there is not enough evidence to unequivocally say it is a real thing.
A Study of Studies
This particular study was carried out by University of Sydney researchers in Australia. It was not clinical in nature. In other words, the researchers did not enroll participants, then ask them to use marijuana so they could test for the presence of hangover effects. Rather, their study was little more than a review of 20 previous studies looking at marijuana impairment.
The researchers determined that data from the previous studies did not indicate any long-lasting effects on a marijuana user eight hours after consumption. They looked at 350 performance assessments conducted as part of the previous 20 studies and found only 12 cases in which subjects displayed any signs of a marijuana hangover.
Furthermore, the researchers noted that many of the previous studies they looked at were limited in nature. Inherent study limits made some of the resulting data highly suspect. As such, the researchers also concluded that more research is necessary before scientists can conclusively determine whether the marijuana hangover is real.
What It Means Practically
So, what does it all mean from a practical standpoint? Right now, testing positive for marijuana consumption a day after using the drug could mean negative consequences. For example, a person who appears to be driving while impaired could be convicted partially on evidence produced by a lab test. But if the Australian research is correct, the presence of marijuana metabolites in the system does not necessarily prove impairment.
Unfortunately, marijuana impairment is pretty subjective in most states. Determining individual impairment is often left to law enforcement on the scene. Relying on lab tests for marijuana impairment is not nearly as reliable as breathalyzer tests for alcohol impairment.
Better Safe than Sorry
Regardless of what future research ultimately reveals, smart people understand that it is better to be safe than sorry. That is the policy at Pure Utah in Payson, UT. As a licensed Utah medical cannabis pharmacy, Pure Utah recommends its customers not take any unnecessary chances. They recommend not engaging in any dangerous activity if there is even the slightest chance that a patient might be impaired.
That is good advice for anyone who uses marijuana recreationally or medically. There is no denying that marijuana has psychotropic effects. There is no denying that people experiencing those effects are also experiencing a certain level of impairment. As such, there is never justification for endangering the lives and property of others while under the influence of marijuana.
In the meantime, it is a safe bet other researchers will pick up where the Australian team left off. Given the prevalence of state-legal marijuana, the impairment question is eventually going to have to be answered one way or another. There is no way to establish a legal framework for dealing with impairment issues otherwise. The sooner we have an answer, the better.