Driving Under the Influence: Marijuana
Now that it is legal to use cannabis are we going to see a huge uptake in marijuana-influenced driving this month? I really don’t think so because I feel that it already has happened ever since medical marijuana became legal and marijuana retail stores began to pop up all over the city.
I drive more than most people. I have good friends, family and grandchildren in Toronto so I am there about twice a week. I live in Burlington so I drive back and forth to work for 30 minutes a day. While driving my 40,000 Km a year I get to witness some of the most bazaar antics you can imagine. Not only are these bad drivers but I am guessing that a great number are under the influence of anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax, antidepressants, drugs for cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and blood pressure that are so dehydrating a driver without sufficient water is impaired. Add some marijuana and alcohol to the mix and no wonder almost 2000 people died in fatal car crashes last year and there were over 200,000 reports of cars and trucks simply colliding with one another.
With all the emphasis on road safety and all the new innovations on cars to keep us safe there is only one answer to this horrible driving mess; drugs. Not just prescription drugs, not just alcohol and marijuana but other drugs such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine. The people taking these drugs do not feel impaired because the drugs have made them feel that way. And off they go causing carnage on our streets and roads.
All the pundits were crying that once cannabis became legal, the roads would not be safe. The fact is that people have been getting high and driving ever since the automobile was invented. A recent study from Statistics Canada done before pot was legalized revealed that one in seven cannabis users admit to driving high, Fourteen per cent admitted to driving two hours after using. Many elderly patrons of my store take edible marijuana at night for sleep and to help with pain. They do not even realize that the next morning when they are out driving, doing their errands, they are under the influence. It takes 7 days for your body to detoxify one dose of cannabis. All these people are on the road. We just haven’t noticed them.
Now that marijuana is legal there will be changes but some of them not very good. Criminals are not going to give up the trade and enroll in flower design school. They will undercut the government prices and probably produce newer and stronger strains that the legal national growers cannot compete with. In Colorado, the poster state for legal cannabis, the number one age demographic for heroin is 18-24. People stupid enough to get high and drive have been doing it for years and will continue to do so.
For some reason, drivers feel that have a right to drive just a ”little” impaired. We have a right to drive with THC in our systems. We have a right to drive after a few drinks, just so long as we don’t blow over. I remember a number of years ago an airline pilot was stopped from taking off because he was over the legal limit. What is the legal limit to fly an airplane? Shouldn’t it be zero? It should also be zero for driving a motorcycle which requires a much higher level of alertness than an automobile. But there is no accurate test to measure cannabis impairment. It is easy to measure alcohol but so far impossible to measure the influence marijuana has on our driving.
It is almost impossible to have your driver’s license permanently revoked. In 2015, drunk driver Marc Muzzo killed three children and their grandfather. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. His license will be suspended for 12 years after his release. How on earth can this idiot ever be allowed to drive again?
And yet in Canada we are guaranteed peace, order, free speech, good government and the right to drive no matter how dangerous we are (with time off for the odd bit of impaired driving or vehicular manslaughter).
Here’s my solution—just don’t drive. If you’re using cannabis as medicine or for recreation, if you took a handful of Ativan or any other substance that might impair your ability, don’t drive. If you have just taken your morning or evening dose of prescription medicines, don’t drive, especially this time of year.
Try walking, running, biking, public transport, taxi, Uber or just stagger and crawl. For years we have listened to the famous line; “if you drink don’t drive.” Do your drinking at home. Get high at home on the couch instead of in the car.
Like the people that Marc Muzzo killed, I am a grandfather with three grandchildren. The next time I take them skiing or skating or to an event, please allow us to get there and back safely. If you are doing drugs or alcohol, DON’T DRIVE!! [print_link]