Weed impairs your reaction time
A new video ad has been passed around the internet in the past couple of months. The commercial was commissioned by the Colorado Department of Transportation to alert people to the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana.
It claims that 19% of all DUI offences in the state are for marijuana. Why? Because weed impairs your reaction time. To illustrate the point Youtube’s ‘Skip Ad’ message starts jumping all over the screen. Catch it if you can (for the record, in a ‘straight’ sample test in the Paradise Seeds office none of us could catch it!).
As a society, we have been well educated to the dangers of drunk driving and, as a result, there is a social taboo that has grown up around this. However, this is not the same for cannabis and many Mary Jane users will not think twice about getting behind the wheel after smoking.
Because weed use has been ‘under the radar’ for so long it has only been in the past few years that roadside drug testing programs have become more widely adopted by police forces. These take the form of a saliva swab from the inside of the mouth which, if shown positive, will result in a blood test.
What are the Cannabis Driving limits?
Depending on where you are in the world depends on the legal limit set for how many micrograms (µg) of THC are present in a person’s blood. In Colorado, for example, drivers with 5.0 μg/L in blood of active THC in their whole blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence.
In the UK and Poland the level is 2µg/L of THC (the active compound found in cannabis) in blood. In France it is 1.0 μg/L, Italy it is 0.5 μg/L, in Germany it is 1.0 μg/L while in the Netherlands the figure is 0.3μg/L.
Because the levels are so low this often translates as a ‘zero tolerance’ test for cannabis levels in drivers. Cannabis rights campaigners have also argued that testing ignores the fact that trace elements of cannabis can be found in the blood up to a month after use (so potentially falsely influencing the results).
In a study by Wolff and Johnston in 2014, it was estimated that the quantity of marijuana in an average joint is about 200 mg, which is equivalent to approximately 5 mg to 30 mg active THC. Other cannabis studies indicate that blood concentrations of THC reach a maximum within 3 to 15 minutes of intake.
However, what law enforcement sources are reluctant to divulge, yet is the question most cannabis users ask, is how soon after smoking is it OK to drive? Basically, if you’ve had a joint within the past 2-8 hours it is possible that you will have a THC level in your blood stream that could lead to prosecution.
Best Advice for Cannabis Users – Drive Responsibly
The cannabis user has got so used to defending their rights that sometimes they can develop a deafness to certain arguments; “Smoking cannabis is bad for your health” for example is often thrown back as, “Well it’s better for you than drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.” Yes, that may be true, but there are negative health effects to consider...
The same can be said for stoned driving. You may think you’re a better driver stoned, you may think you’re a safer driver stoned, you may think being stoned doesn’t affect your driving at all, but in the eyes of the law it does. As a driver, this is the most important fact you need to accept.
Not so long ago drink drivers resisted changes to the law and the arrival of roadside testing with the same arguments. At the end of the day, if you’re on the road, it’s not all about you. Use cannabis and drive and you raise the risk to life, your own and other road users. The answer is simple. Drive responsibly. No excuses.