Marijuana slows reaction times, negatively affects coordination, and causes sleepiness. These are all effects that greatly impact driving.
Marijuana is widely known around the world. It comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and other compounds. THC is what causes some of the changes a person experiences as they get high.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that marijuana is commonly smoked via:
Mixing marijuana oil into food (edibles) is another common method of consumption.
Vaporizers are also becoming popular with marijuana users because they are thought to prevent the inhalation of smoke. Some users also brew it as a tea.
As stated by the NIDA, marijuana was the most frequently used illicit substance in 2015. States have been changing their marijuana laws in response to public demand and scientific findings.
On November 2018, NBC News reported that recreational marijuana was legal in 10 states and Washington, D.C. Medical marijuana is legal in 33 states.
This has forced jurisdictions to educate drivers about the possible legal and health consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana.
Though marijuana is a popular recreational drug, many people use it as medicine.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved marijuana as medication, but it has approved medication based off some of its extracts, as mentioned by NIDA.
Using marijuana for a legitimate health issue does not mean that people will be OK to drive after using it. Below is some scientific data that explains why.
Driving requires a person to pay attention to their surroundings, laws, traffic, and other events that may surprise a driver. On June 2018, NIDA mentioned that marijuana is often found in the blood of people who have been responsible for car crashes.
This is because THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, can affect a person’s coordination and reasoning in various ways.
These effects occur because THC causes a person to become more relaxed. Smoking marijuana releases THC into the bloodstream faster, but eating items with THC makes its effects last longer.
Smoking and eating marijuana are common, but people are also beginning to use more marijuana extracts that cause more THC to be released into the blood. This is referred to as dabbing. Some resins and extracts are:
If you have never smoked marijuana before, it could have more of an effect on you than on an experienced user. This is especially the case if using extracts with high concentrations of THC.
As reported by NIDA, some strains of marijuana are becoming stronger, thanks to different growing practices. If you are used to taking marijuana, this may be of less risk to you.
New marijuana users may be unprepared for the higher dose of THC contained in these stronger strains, putting them more at risk if they decide to drive.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also mention that drinking alcohol along with marijuana increases the risks of causing an accident because of impaired driving.
AAA reports a few other things about driving and marijuana use.
Scientific research makes it clear that driving after ingesting marijuana is not a good idea. Almost every skill needed to be a safe driver diminishes after taking it.
In addition to health consequences, drivers who use marijuana on an occasional or regular basis should learn more about local laws, which may vary.
In January 2019, Massachusetts residents were cautioned that they should be aware of the hazards and legal consequences of driving under the influence of marijuana.
Though this may vary depending on local laws, the key thing to remember is that driving under marijuana’s influence can have serious consequences.
People should not drive if they decide to consume the drug.
(June 2018) Does marijuana affect driving? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 2019 from from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/does-marijuana-use-affect-driving
(October 2018) How Does Marijuana Affect Driving? Verywell Mind. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-does-marijuana-affect-driving-63533
(March 2016) Overview of Major Issues Regarding the Impacts of Alcohol and Marijuana on Driving. AAA. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/msp/2016.3_AAA_Overview_Alcohol_Cannabis_Impacts_631098_7.pdf
(January 2019) Here’s what happens if a driver gets pulled over while high on marijuana. Boston.com. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2019/01/16/massachusetts-marijuana-high-driving-explainer
(2017) What You Need to Know About Marijuana Use and Driving. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/marijuana/pdf/marijuana-driving-508.pdf
(June 2018) What are marijuana's long-term effects on the brain? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain
(June 2018) What is marijuana? National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
(November 2018) MAP: See the states where marijuana is legal. NBC News. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/map-see-if-marijuana-legal-your-state-n938426
(June 2018) Marijuana as medicine: what is medical marijuana. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved February 2019 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine