As states across the U.S. legalize cannabis for medicinal purposes, lawmakers are faced with difficult questions, such as: How much marijuana can somebody consume before getting behind the wheel of a car?
Legislators in Hawaii have asked the state’s Health Department to study the issue, the Associated Press reported Monday. Hawaii is currently in the process of creating medical-marijuana dispensaries.
“I think that it’s really important that we do this now,” said state Rep. Cindy Evans, who is among the 16 lawmakers who introduced the resolution asking for a study. “Hopefully, this is the beginning of the discussion.”
Hawaii state law bans people from driving under the influence of drugs, but no legal level for the amount of cannabis allowed in one’s bloodstream has been created. Other states have established limits, but they are not uniform, pointing to varying levels of THC, the major psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. A level of 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood was set in Colorado, Montana and Washington, while a level of 2 nanograms was set in Nevada and Ohio.
The call for the Hawaiian study came as a record-high number of Americans say they support cannabis legalization. A survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found 61 percent of Americans say they would support marijuana legalization. When asked more nuanced questions, just 24 percent of legalization supporters answered that the drug should be available “only with a medical prescription.”
Outside marijuana use, the poll found 62 percent of Americans believe at least one type of drug use was causing a serious problem in their local communities, AP reported. The survey of 1,042 adults was conducted Feb. 11-14, and it had a 3.9 percent margin of error.
Voters in several states, including California, Massachusetts and Nevada, could consider legalizing marijuana for recreational use when they head to the polls this fall.