Medical marijuana is legal in more than half the states in the U.S., and that number continues to grow. Currently, there are 29 states where you can get a prescription for marijuana for specific conditions, such as glaucoma, cancer, or chronic pain.
In most of these states, you can get a marijuana card that allows you to visit a dispensary and buy small amounts of weed without any doctor’s appointment every time.
Furthermore, some states have laws that explicitly state that those with medical cannabis cards cannot be penalized for driving while under the influence of marijuana. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t still concerns about driving while high on weed.
In many cases, those who drive under the influence of medical marijuana might not even be aware of it. Driving under the influence of any substance poses risks.
However, it is important to know how it affects your ability to drive safely.. You should also know what precautions you need to take when operating a vehicle after using medical cannabis.
What Is Considered Driving Under The Influence of Weed?
Driving with any amount of marijuana in your system may not be safe. It can be difficult to determine how much is too much. One of the biggest concerns is that, unlike alcohol, THC, the active substance in marijuana, can remain in a person’s body for a long time. The human body can absorb it into the bloodstream for up to 30 days after use.
One of the primary ways that states determine if someone is driving under the influence of weed is by observing if the person has reached a certain level of THC in their system.
However, THC levels can vary from person to person. It depends on a variety of factors including:
The level of THC in the strain of cannabis being used,
and how the marijuana was ingested.
As a result, it’s difficult to definitively say that a certain amount of THC in the system is enough to conclude that someone is driving while high.
Can You Really Get a DUI for Being Stoned?
In many states, Police can’t charge you with driving under the influence of marijuana. However, it’s important to note that they can charge you with driving while impaired by marijuana.
The difference between these two charges is that a DUI charge requires someone to be impaired to the point where they have difficulty operating a vehicle.
In the case of marijuana, a person can still be charged with being impaired even if they aren’t high.
There are no hard and fast rules about how much THC in the system is too much. There are some precautions that one should take if one uses medical cannabis and want to drive.
If a doctor prescribes you medical marijuana, then you can take it at home. Be sure to store it out of reach of children and pets.
Additionally, it’s always a good idea to eat before you drive. Driving on an empty stomach can increase your risk of feeling dizzy or nauseous.
However, if you’ve ingested cannabis it can cause increased heart rate and anxiety. Eating something before you drive will help to slow your heart rate.
Why is Medical Marijuana Bad for Driving?
The biggest concern with driving under the influence of medical marijuana is the same as driving under alcohol. The problem that people can face:
- Have slower reaction times.
- Become more distracted.
- and have difficulty focusing.
As a result, they may drive more slowly, tailgate, or change lanes without using turn signals.
In extreme cases, people who are very high may fail to notice hazards such as construction, disabled vehicles, or pedestrians at crosswalks.
Even more concerning, driving while under the influence of cannabis may increase the risk of car accidents. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that fatal car accidents involving drivers who tested positive for THC were nearly three times more likely than accidents involving sober drivers.
When Will Marijuana Show Up On a Drug Test?
It’s important to remember that just because you have a medical marijuana card and have legally purchased cannabis in a dispensary, that doesn’t mean that you can drive however you like. While driving, you’re at risk of being pulled over and tested for drugs.
Many states have laws that allow officers to test drivers for impairment. Depending on the suspect smoking weed, they may ask you to take a blood or urine test. These tests are only to determine if there are any traces of THC in your system.
Generally speaking, if you ingest cannabis orally, it will take about two hours for your body to metabolize the THC and for it to show up in a urine test. If you smoke it or vaporize it, it will take about five hours for THC to show up in a urine test. If you inject cannabis, it will take about eight hours for a urine test to detect THC in your system.
Are There Any Ways to Determine Whether Someone Is High While Driving?
If you suspect that the person behind the wheel of the car next to you has ingested cannabis, you can attempt to determine if they are high. Unfortunately, there isn’t a foolproof method to do this. If you’re not sure what to look for, it’s best to call the police and let them handle the situation.
Generally speaking, officers will use their experience to attempt to draw inferences about whether someone is driving while high. They may look for signs like extremely slow driving, driving without turn signals, and driving without headlights during the day.
If the officer believes that the driver is under the influence of cannabis, they will likely ask them to pull over. Most officers will attempt to administer a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test to determine whether the driver is under the influence of weed or alcohol.
Driving while high on cannabis can be just as dangerous, if not more so, than driving while intoxicated by alcohol. As such, it’s important to understand the risks that come with driving after consuming cannabis and to take proper precautions to avoid putting yourself and others at risk.
If you or a loved one struggles with marijuana addiction, please get help. Marijuana Anonymous is a 12-step program that helps people stop using weed and stay clean. If you are in need of treatment, you can find the nearest facility through their website.