It is not uncommon for cannabis proponents to voice frustrations over criticisms of medical cannabis based on the idea that we don’t know enough about the drug to be able to say whether it truly has medical benefits. They make a good point. On the other hand, it’s not right for proponents to turn around and use the same argument to suggest that driving high may not be dangerous.
Any substance that impairs one’s ability to perform the basic functions necessary for safe driving should be completely avoided if one plans to drive. It doesn’t matter whether you are talking alcohol, prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, or even marijuana. Driving while impaired is never a good idea. It is never acceptable.
Scientific Data Is Lacking
This post was inspired by one I read on The Cannigma website. That post dealt with the question of driving high. One of its main points was that there is not enough scientific data to know whether cannabis consumption significantly impairs one’s ability to drive.
While technically true, the implication of such a statement is not. The author of the piece was by no means giving the green light to driving while high. She also stated at the end of the piece that doing so is dangerous. Nonetheless, there are undoubtedly some readers who will take the post the wrong way and use it to justify their willingness to drive high.
What’s Good for the Goose
From my perspective as someone who has been writing about cannabis for years, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. The fact that scientific data on medical marijuana’s efficacy is lacking, compared to many other medicines, does not mean that the drug doesn’t work for those who use it. That is fair and we get it.
By the same token, a lack of evidence clearly proving that driving high is dangerous does not mean that the practice isn’t. In fact, common sense dictates just the opposite. If you are high, you are impaired. And if you are impaired, you shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a rolling weapon that weighs several tons.
The Data Is Limited
As The Cannigma piece points out, the data we currently have on driving high is limited. Only a few small-scale studies have been conducted to date. The results are not enough to make any conclusive decisions. So until we have such data, it is wise to err on the side of caution. Just don’t drive when you’re high.
The Laws Are Tough
In terms of state laws against driving while high, they are tough. Take Utah, for example. According to the folks at Utahmarijuana.org, impaired driving in the Beehive State could result in conviction of a class B misdemeanor accompanied by a significant fine, jail time, or both. But that’s not all.
An impaired driver who injures or kills someone else could be convicted of a class A misdemeanor which would result in heavier penalties. The same goes for someone who is found driving impaired with a minor in the vehicle.
Just Don’t Do It
The lesson in all of this is pretty simple: just don’t do it. It really does not matter whether we have enough data to determine if driving high is dangerous. Common sense tells us that it is. The only thing future data is going to reveal is just how severe the impairment is.
If you use cannabis either medically or recreationally, conduct yourself the same way you expect alcohol users to. Do not drive for as long as you are impaired.