The police make no distinction between alcohol and marijuana.
The psychiatrist Michal Patarák from the F.D. The Roosevelt Hospital in Banská Bystrica, central Slovakia, which works with people who have had their marijuana license removed, has found that the police seem to be increasingly finding drugs other than alcohol in the drivers' bodies.
"These cases may have occurred in the past two months and my colleagues in the Banská Bystrica region have had similar experiences," said Patarák.
If a police officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, they take away their driver's license. The official also decides whether the driver needs to be checked for dependency. This is judged by a psychiatrist. If they find that the person is addicted, the police will not return the license to the owner.
In the past few weeks, Patarák claims to have examined four patients who have had their license withdrawn because cannabinoids were found in their urine. These compounds are found in hemp and marijuana.
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The Police of Banská Bystrica (BB PR) said there is no special operation to uncover marijuana users. The cases in question were part of regular police checks.
"It is by no means a one-off operation, but rather a regular review of the planned deployment of police officers on duty," said BB PR spokeswoman Mária Faltániová, said:
Patarák pointed out that three of his patients had retained cannabinoid levels in their bodies and were probably due to previous marijuana use. It could have had no effect on driving, he added. No one checked them for acute cannabinoid poisoning, only for the presence of cannabinoids in the urine.
Nevertheless, the law assumes that they got into a car under the influence.
The Home Office announced last September that it would make driver drug control more effective. Slovakia is one of the last countries where drug tests have not yet been carried out on the roadside.
It can easily happen that we punish people for something that is not the case affect their ability to drive.
Interior Minister Denisa Saková (Smer) would like to buy mobile drug test sets and one-time screening tests for more than € 4.5 million.
It is ultimately up to a police officer to decide whether to test a driver, taking into account the physical appearance and reactions of the driver at that particular time. The driver can reject the drug test. In such cases, however, they are legally treated as if they had used drugs.
"This year, as in the past, we will carry out checks of this type as part of our normal course of action," claimed the Slovakian police spokeswoman Denisa Bárdyová.
Marijuana Stays, Its Effect Disappears
Driving after consuming marijuana can be dangerous as it slows the driver's response time and reduces attention.
However, the duration of such an effect depends on whether the person has smoked or eaten marijuana and whether they consume it regularly. According to the World Health Organization, marijuana can affect overall human performance within 24 hours of ingestion.
Marijuana and driving in Slovakia
1/3 of Slovaks between the ages of 15 and 34 have experience with marijuana, and 9.3 percent of them. Respondents took marijuana last year (European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug addiction 2017). Cannabinoids can remain in the body for weeks after ingestion, although they no longer affect perception and behavior. Driving under the influence of a drug is considered a crime or an offense: in the event of a crime, a driver can receive a fixed fee of up to € 650 (or a fine of € 200 to € 1,000 in an administrative process and a ban) (driving ban for five years), and in the event of a crime, they face imprisonment of up to two years.
Although its influence will fade in the meantime, marijuana can still remain in the body.
How quickly cannabinoids disappear from the body depends on an individual. The period can last from several days to weeks. They stay in the body for so long because they combine with fat. In general, obese people and normal marijuana users are slower to get rid of these compounds.
One-Leggedness and Punishment
Driving in Slovakia with alcohol or other means is prohibited. Drugs are present in a driver's body, regardless of whether they are still affected or not. The presence of prohibited substances is determined by medical examination, including taking blood or other biological material. For example, a driver who smoked marijuana two weeks ago is safe for other drivers, while a drunk driver actually is. However, the law makes no distinction between them and they will both have their driver's license removed if they are caught.
"It's easy to find out if a driver is under the influence of any substance," said Patarák. This can include simple sobriety tests such as walking and turning, a stand with one leg, and the Rhomberg Balance test.
Marijuana poisoning, however, has specific characteristics and may not be as visible as with alcohol. Patarák added.
Canada as an example
Similar tests are carried out in Canada, where marijuana is already legal. If a test detects less than two nanograms of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a major component of cannabis, in the blood, a driver is safe. If it exceeds the two nanogram limit, the driver can be fined up to CAN $ 1,000. If the amount of THC in the blood is more than five nanograms, the driver faces a higher fine and even a prison sentence of up to ten years.
"Some experts consider these strict rules for the detection of psychoactive substances to be good because they prevent people from using marijuana," Patarák claims.
“However, it can easily happen that we punish people for something that does not impair their ability to drive. “
January 8, 2020 at 11:44 pm
| Roman Cuprik