When it comes to marijuana use, my concerns are primarily in the area of its unpredictability. In my view, it is largely the unpredictability of how long the drug is in the system of the user, that makes it such a dangerous drug.
This article is not about the many reasons that marijuana should be legalized or the many reasons it should not be. It is, however, about making you aware of what is generally not talked about… the possible risks associated with driving after smoking this weed.
Medical marijuana is now legal in some states in the U.S., and even marijuana for recreational use has been legalized in some states. On the news, I have seen nothing so far about concerns when people get in their cars and drive down the highway. We know that drinking alcohol and driving do not go together. We also know about how long the alcohol stays in the system, so that a responsible person would not drive their car during this time period.
How long does marijuana stay in the system has many variations. When a person is a constant user of marijuana, it may be in the system for up to 90 days. It may be in the system of a regular smoker for up to 45 days, and in the system of even an occasional smoker for up to 10 days. While it is true, that those are probably maximum times, but how do you know?
How does smoking one or more joints affect your driving? There may be impairment of judgment, impairment of motor coordination, impairment of the ability to concentrate and may slow reaction time. There may be a negative effect on a person’s vision, hearing, and in their ability to perform simultaneous tasks.
When combined with alcohol, results could be much worse. Expect even more difficulty with concentration, with perceiving time and distance, judgment, reaction time, poor speed control, inability to read signs and drowsiness.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that “when drivers are killed in motor vehicle crashes, drugs other than alcohol are involved about 18% of the time.” Otherwise, one in six drivers killed in traffic are under the influence of drugs!
According to the NHTSA, marijuana is addictive and can cause harm. Low use of the drug results in moderate impairment in the ability to drive, but chronic or heavy use or use with alcohol will result in severe impairment.