As the legalization of marijuana spreads throughout the county, many people are starting to wonder exactly what this means for those who use cannabis and drive. Although cannabis does not impair you as substantially as does alcohol, there is still data pointing to the fact that it does lessen your driving ability. In this article, we will be discussing three different circumstances and which ones will or will not result in a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) penalty.
Medical Marijuana vs. Recreational Marijuana
Everyone knows that there’s a huge difference between the medical and recreational forms of cannabis, but is there a difference in the way they affect your driving? Let’s take a quick look at the primary differences between the two:
Purpose — Medical cannabis is intended for healing, and recreational cannabis is intended to produce a “high.” The latter is likely to be consumed in larger quantities than the former.
Chemistry — As an additional consideration, different strains of cannabis have different proportions of CBD (cannabidiol) and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The former is primarily associated with medical cannabis, while the latter is primarily associated with recreational.
So what’s the difference between driving after using these two methods? Nothing. Using cannabis recreationally or medically and then driving is likely to result in a DUI either way. According to California DUI law, for example, if a substance “affects the nervous system, brain, or muscles of a person as to impair, to an appreciable degree, his ability to drive a vehicle,” then the individual is subject to a DUI conviction. If you want to drive in the near future, don’t use cannabis or wait at least 4 hours before attempting to do so.
Another upcoming product that has gained a lot of popularity in the cannabis industry is CBD oil. What is CBD? Essentially, it is the other main compound in Marijuana that provides medical benefits. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not make its user “high.” Those using CBD oil will not feel anything similar to those who use cannabis or products containing THC.
Why do people use CBD if it doesn’t get you high? Many firsthand accounts suggest that CBD is effective in treating — and perhaps even curing — a variety of illnesses, from Parkinson’s to cancer. More so, even, than more traditional prescription medications.
Since CBD is derived from cannabis, will you get a DUI if you use it and drive? No. CBD is not known to impair drivers and will not cause you to get a DUI. With that being said, you should use it a few times and see how you feel to make sure you are capable of driving. Have a trusted, sober friend in the passenger seat if you decide to try driving, and keep initial trips short. It may make you feel a little different, but definitely not high.
Can law enforcement prove that you’re high?
Many recreational marijuana smokers believe that cops have no way of proving whether or not you are high. They believe this because until recently, there really was no way to tell. Even if someone was suspected of using cannabis and it shows up in their system, it is difficult to tell exactly how long ago they used it and how high they are.
But there are studies showing that marijuana makes certain tasks harder to perform. Because of that, law enforcement officers are being trained to determine whether or not drivers are impaired from cannabis by using a field sobriety test. Usually, this test requires the driver to close their eyes, tilt their head back, and spread their arms to the side. Next, they will be asked to touch their finger to their nose, similar to the alcohol sobriety test. Other tests are being developed as well.
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