Marijuana, Officer Kevin Millan from the City of Miami Beach police department conducts a field sobriety test at a DUI traffic checkpoint in Miami, Florida.
Marijuana legalization is set to become a major ballot issue in several states this year, including California. Because of this, lawmakers have looked to the potential damage the drug can have on our everyday life– including driving. In states such as Colorado, it’s illegal to drive with a blood-test threshold for 5 milligrams of THC, the chemical in marijuana that makes people high.
But a new study by AAA’s safety foundation says that that specific level has no basis in science to determine the harm that it has on a person’s ability to drive. The study goes on to explain that this level can lead to someone being unlawfully prosecuted for driving while high, despite the fact that they control of their faculties.
While many advocacy groups agree that the scientific studies on marijuana’s effect on driving are in their infancy, it is still important to ensure that the practice is properly disincentivised to avoid loss of life.
Cannabis is often used for its mental and physical effects, such as a “high” or “stoned” feeling, a general change in perception, euphoria (heightened mood), and an increase in appetite. Short-term side effects may include a decrease in short-term memory, dry mouth, impaired motor skills, red eyes, and feelings of paranoia or anxiety. Long-term side effects may include addiction, decreased mental ability in those who started as teenagers, and behavioral problems in children whose mothers used cannabis during pregnancy. The onset of effects is within minutes when smoked and about 30 to 60 minutes when cooked and eaten. They last for between two and six hours.