During the big battles over Colorado’s DUI for THC law, I cautioned many who showed up to testify not to say they drive better when they’re high. Even if it was true, it wouldn’t score us any points. In fact, law enforcement uses that claim as proof that cannabis consumers are so stoned they don’t even realize just how stoned they are.
Today, I was excited to read a recent article about how cannabis treats ADHD better than Adderall. It promised to validate the claims made by many patients.
When I read these types of articles, I try to go back to the original study. I look at things like who the primary researcher is, who paid for it, how it was conducted, how many people were in it, and the results. Imagine my surprise when I looked into this case study and found more validation than I ever expected!
This was a case study from Germany of a “28-year old male, who showed improper behaviour and appeared to be very maladjusted and inattentive while sober.” He’d been diagnosed with ADHD and hadn’t respond to traditional treatments including Ritalin.
However, after consuming cannabis, “he appeared calm, but not sedated, organized and restrained. Unlike during the first meeting he was able to accept and discuss arguments… His behaviour, motor function, mood and consciousness did not give any indications of a prior use of a psychoactive substance.”
That’s all well and good, but what really blew me away was what they used to determine his performance: driving!
“The tests of performance functions that are relevant to driving skills involved the four subtests of ART2020, a computer-controlled test system, which is commonly used to assess driving performance. These subtests evaluate complex reactions (RST3), sustained attention (Q1), directed attention (LL3) and visual surveying and perception (TT15). In addition the functions of ‘vigilance’ and ‘divided attention’ were tested with the attention test module (TAP).”
And what was this young man’s THC blood level?
“A blood sample was taken after completion of the tests. It showed a very high concentration of THC (71 ng/mL serum), of the psychoactive metabolite 11-hydroxy-THC (30 ng/mL serum) and of the main nonpsychoactive metabolite 11-nor-delta-9-carboxy-THC (251 ng/mL serum). Such levels indicate recent as well as frequent consumption of THC-containing matters, and the analyte pattern also suggests smoking.”
I’m getting down right giddy now! Here’s the kicker!
“The present case report suggests that individuals suffering from ADHD, a dysfunction with a symptomatic change in activity levels, may – in some cases – benefit from cannabis treatment in that it appears to regulate activation to a level which may be considered optimum for performance. There was evidence, that the consumption of cannabis had a positive impact on performance, behaviour and mental state of the subject.“
Remember, performance was based on tests “relevant to driving skills.” And this case study shows that this young man performed better AFTER he had consumed cannabis.
Although I don’t believe anyone should drive while they’re impaired, I’ve long argued that medical marijuana patients can and do drive better when they’re medicated, even with high blood levels. As a fibromyalgia patient, I know I drive better when my pain and fatigue are under control. I regularly talk with people who say they’re more relaxed and focused when they drive after consuming.
There are those who would have you believe that a single toke is enough to impair you, and for some novice users that may be true. But for a patient who needs an infusion of cannabinoids to bring their body and/or brain into balance, impairment from THC isn’t much of a concern. However, impairment from the symptoms of their condition without cannabis is.
So for all of you out there who say you drive better when you’re high, this case study may well be the beginning of research that proves you (and me) right.
— Rx MaryJane (Teri Robnett)
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