With marijuana becoming recreationally and medically legal across the country, citizens and government officials alike have a lot of questions about driving under the influence. California, however, was one of the first states to decriminalize this plant and the first state to legalize medical cannabis. In 2012, California and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational use.
This early jump on marijuana use has allowed to the state to better navigate the conflict of cannabis use and driving. So, is driving under the influence still illegal if you have a medical card or are using freely within the state’s laws? Here’s what you need to know.
THC and You
Marijuana’s psychoactive element is called delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, more commonly referred to as THC. Effects vary greatly depending on the strain and whether the plant is a Sativa, Indica, or hybrid. Tolerance also plays a vital role in how THC effects someone. However, most users can expect the following:
- Impaired decision making
- Mood changes, often euphoria
- Increased appetite
- Altered sense of time
- Eventual tiredness
This has led many experts to advise against driving while under the influence of THC. The altered sense of time and impact on your decision making could cause a potential accident. If you are in an accident and high, then it’s vital that you speak with a motor vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible.
Cops Can Test You
If an officer believes you are under the influence of marijuana, there are a number of ways they’ll test you to find out. The first is smelling for the plant, followed by monitoring your behavior and looking for clear traces of marijuana in your car.
They also look for dilated pupils, red eyes, and rapid breathing. If they can not determine that you’re using marijuana but still think you’re under the influence, then officers might utilize blood, saliva, or urine tests to detect THC in your system.
There’s a lot of debate on THC in a driver’s system right now, and that’s throughout the country. THC remains in your body long after its effects have worn off, which means people that are not under the influence could still test positive for marijuana. There are legal professionals out there who fight these cases in the driver’s favor.
However, being clearly under the influence when you drive comes with the same charges as DUI. Drivers can face fines, suspensions of their license, and probation. Drug education classes are another punishment, which are similar to AA.
Play It Smart
While marijuana and its THC derivatives are perfectly legal, you shouldn’t drive while under the influence of cannabis. The same is true for alcohol in this state and across the country. There’s nothing wrong with getting high and enjoying yourself, but don’t put others at risk by getting behind the wheel until the effects have worn off completely. Play it smart, wait it out, and stay safe.