Over the years, there has been a lot of debate about the safety and medical
uses of marijuana. Recently, numerous states, including California, have
legalized a small amount of marijuana for personal use. Now that it’s
legal for adults (age 18 and above) to possess a small amount of marijuana
in California, the question is, is it illegal to drive on it?
Even though California lawmakers relaxed the state’s laws regarding
marijuana possession, those legislative changes have NOT changed the fact
that driving under the influence of marijuana is still criminalized under
sections 23152(f) and (g) of the California Vehicle Code. Under
Section 23152(f) it says, “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence
of any drug to drive a vehicle.”
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
We’ve established that driving under the influence of marijuana is
illegal, but is it really dangerous? After all, a lot of pot smokers firmly
believe that it’s safer to drive under the influence of marijuana
than alcohol. “Marijuana significantly impairs judgement, motor
coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship
between blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability,” according to the
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).
According to the NIDA, “Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently
found in the blood of drivers who have been involved in vehicle crashes,
including fatal ones.” Of course, now that the laws have changed
in California, in many circumstances marijuana is no longer illegal, especially
medical marijuana. However, like many types of
prescription medications, such as tranquilizers, sleep medications, and muscle relaxants, marijuana
can affect a person’s ability to drive safely.
Unlike alcohol, which can be easily measured with a blood or breath test
and typically wears off in about eight hours, it can be difficult to understand the role
marijuana plays in crashes because it can stay in the body for days or weeks after
being inhaled or consumed. Not only that, but people frequently drink
alcohol and use marijuana at the same time.
To learn more about California’s latest rules for marijuana legalization,
this article published in the
Orange County Register.
Facing charges for driving under the influence of marijuana?
Contact our office at once to schedule a
free case evaluation!