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, check out 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!