We’ve done several articles about marijuana and driving under the influence, focusing mostly on discriminatory “driving while high” laws that set unscientific, arbitrary blood limits for THC.
Our articles point out that marijuana affects each of us differently, so THC blood levels are a totally unreliable predictor of marijuana intoxication and driving impairment.
Marijuana researcher, hydroponics nutrients inventor, and cannabis political activist Michael Straumietis has concerns about marijuana and driving, and laws surrounding them.
“Sriving while high laws are discriminatory, but marijuana growers and users have to put safety first when it comes to using marijuana and operating any potentially dangerous equipment,” says Straumietis, founder and owner of hydroponics nutrients company Advanced Nutrients. “There’s still a lot of prejudice against our marijuana community. If we get too stoned and cause accidents, that’s adding fuel to the fire.”
Concerned about marijuana DUI laws and public safety, Straumietis asked his research scientists to look into marijuana’s real effects on driving.
Here’s what his team found regarding marijuana and driving:
Marijuana affects each of us differently, but there are common cannabis intoxication effects most people experience in the first 1-3 hours after getting high.
Cannabis intoxication can cause enlargement of blood vessels, a drop in blood pressure, and a resultant increase in heart rate, especially in the early phase of a high.
This can affect balance and concentration.
Being high sometimes impairs eye function, including your eye’s ability to handle changes in light intensity and track objects.
Time and space perception may be altered by getting high, which has direct impact on an individual’s ability to judge speed, the location of other cars, and on steering ability.
The ability to recognize and respond to stimuli (often called motor response and reaction time) is sometimes negatively affected by being high.
Marijuana concentrates such as butane honey oil and marijuana edibles can be “overdosed,” which is almost certain to lead to driving impairment.
Marijuana’s euphoric, giggly, spacey, psychedelic, “mind-altering” effects can distract drivers.
If you use the right dose and type of marijuana, marijuana’s medical effects may improve driving for drivers who would otherwise have driving impairments due to pain, spasms, or other medical conditions that cannabis alleviates.
Even extremely small amounts of alcohol way under the blood alcohol limits of most states impair driving in ways that are far more serious than what most marijuana users will ever encounter from marijuana’s effects.
The degree to which marijuana impairs your driving depends on your age, generic driving ability, experience with marijuana, what kind of marijuana product you use (whole bud versus dabs or medibles, for example), how soon you drive after using it, your tolerance to marijuana, and your mental and emotional situation.
Traffic accidents caused by prescription pharmaceuticals, texting, pets in car, defective transportation infrastructure, and driver distraction and stress are far more prevalent than accidents caused by marijuana and driving.
Straumietis says his scientists’ research data points towards very clear strategies you can use to ensure that we’re not causing traffic accidents.
“My personal rule is don’t drive for at least the first three hours after I get high,” he says. “If you’re dabbing or eating medibles, don’t drive at all until at least five hours after their use. Be one hundred percent sure you’re absolutely clear-minded enough to use a motor vehicle.”
Straumietis says it’s wise to have a “designated driver and non-stoned person” who evaluates your high and drives for you if necessary.
“Sometimes you just don’t know how high you are. It’s hard for you to be objective. Have someone who isn’t high look at your coordination, mental state, and alertness capacities before you get behind the wheel,” he advises.
Straumietis notes that police highway interdiction and marijuana DUI laws are set up to snare marijuana growers, users, and transporters.
Even in legalized marijuana states like Colorado and Washington, a highway traffic stop when you’ve used marijuana and/or have marijuana in your vehicle is a recipe for potential disaster, Straumietis warns.
“Marijuana people are victims of discrimination and you don’t want to give police any excuse to come at you,” he says. “Drive better than all other drivers. The way I look at it, it’s way more fun to be high at home chilling than it is to combine marijuana and driving.”