Researchers at both Colorado State University and University of Colorado are using an iPod Touch to measure the effects of “dabbing” marijuana concentrate and how much it impairs driving ability in a new study.
Dabbing is a form of smoking highly potent marijuana by inhaling vaporized matter.
“Users get very high, very rapidly,” CSU researcher Brian Tracy said in a press release. “It‘s almost instantaneous, and the feeling is very strong.”
The release from CSU said there has been limited research on the physical and health-related effects of dabbing, and the study is expected to provide details of how the drug impairs driving ability.
The study only involves participants who have dabbed before, and the team is not involved with handling or dispensing the drug to participants.
Participants are dabbing marijuana concentrate as they normally would and then getting tested by researchers inside of a van outfitted with gear. The research team parks the van outside participants‘ homes to conduct an initial set of tests that establish their sober baselines, and then after the subjects dab inside their homes, they return to the van to undergo the same tests under the influence, the release said.
The three-year project is called “Effects of Dabbing on Marijuana Intoxication, Driving and Cognition,” and was funded by a $839,500 grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to researchers at CU.
It is the first study of dabbing‘s effect on motor function and reaction time, the release said.
Tracy provided tests focused on movement ability. They measure subjects‘ ability to maintain balance and rapidly move a leg, tap a finger and move an arm. An app collects the data using the sensors built into an iPod Touch, which can be affixed to the participant‘s body during the tests.
“Testing has shown that this $200 iPod Touch is just as accurate as the high-tech $1,000 accelerometer I have in my lab,” Tracy said, noting that the iPod is also portable, which allows the subjects to be tested outside their homes after dabbing.
In total, participants complete 10 tests, so researchers can get an accurate read on the participants‘ overall cognitive and movement ability, both when they are sober and under the influence, the release said.