While some celebrate the new marijuana freedom in California, others are concerned. One way or another, marijuana is entering the mainstream and its use – thanks to the new law – will spread.
The federal government started protesting already. Youth is getting ready to explore the new boundaries.
Fasten your seatbelts, you are in for a bumpy ride. Marijuana, just like alcohol and illicit drugs, impairs driving. While many marijuana users believe that the drug improves their driving skills, statistics published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, indicate that driving while under the influence of marijuana can have dire consequences.
More than a third of teens mistakenly believe they drive better under the influence of marijuana.
(Liberty Mutual/SADD poll of 1,708 teens in the 11th and 12th grades. Margin of error is +/- 2.16 percentage points.) Janet Loehrke, USA TODAY.
The drug showing the greatest increase among drivers from 2007 to 2013/2014 was marijuana (THC). The percentage of THC-positive drivers increased from 8.6 percent in 2007 to 12.6 percent in 2013/2014, a proportional increase of 47 percent.
(NHTSA 2013-2014 Roadside Survey)
Drugs other than alcohol (e.g., marijuana and cocaine) are involved in about 18% of motor vehicle driver deaths.
Almost 7% of drivers, mostly under age 35, who were involved in fatal traffic crashes tested positive for THC, the principle ingredient in marijuana.
In 2013, 9.9 million people (3.8% of the population) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs. This was highest among 18-25 year olds, where 10.6% reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs.
(SAMHSA’s 2013 NSUDH survey)
In 2014, 10.1 million people reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year.
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Illicit Drugs. 2014.
57% of fatally injured drivers had alcohol and/or other drugs in their system – 17% had both.
Those driving under the influence of marijuana will learn the hard way that – legal or not – marijuana is still a drug and no one is allowed to drive while under the influence.
Driving while impaired by marijuana endangers other drivers and pedestrians, watch out! Drivers who dare to operate a motor vehicle while high have plenty to worry about, too. We don’t have much of a frame of reference in California, yet – and thanks God for it! – but take Washington State for instance where marijuana was legalized one year earlier and hello, here’s an eye opener: Marijuana DUI!
Freedom is a beautiful thing – even though the definition of freedom may differ between marijuana fans and marijuana opponents – it is smart however to learn how to use this newly won freedom in advance: before we do any harm to ourselves or others.
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich