Because Michigan is currently slap in the middle of the legal storm surrounding the debate over whether or not to legalize marijuana, this particular piece of information is very relevant to residents of our state. It’s very likely to ruffle a few feathers as well. And is it even true? Does smoking pot not actually affect your ability to drive?
According to a survey conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drinking alcohol has a drastic and almost immediate effect on your ability to drive, and significantly increases your chance of a collision. But there is currently no statistical evidence to suggest that marijuana use has the same effect.
However, as former acting NHTSA Administrator David Kelly was quick to point out, that doesn’t mean that people should feel free to get stoned and then get behind the wheel. Impaired driving is impaired driving, regardless of what substance caused the impairment. Moderation and self-awareness is always advisable.
But either way, this could be considered a boon for the pro-legalization movement here in Michigan. Already 15 cities around our state have approved decriminalization in one form or another, and every year that number grows. It’s a symbol of the public’s increasing tolerance of the use and possession of marijuana.
One of the many obstacles raised in the fight to legalize marijuana in the state of Michigan was the issue of drugged driving. Laws passed just last year attempted to address the issue by updating legislation, making “drugged driving” an offense on par with “drunk driving”. One of the concerns raised at the time, though, was the issue of roadside testing for marijuana.
Medical marijuana advocates spoke out against the technology, claiming that it had not been proven in independent testing. Because of this it could not be relied upon not to incriminate legal users. It has also long been the opinion of advocates that users of legal medical marijuana should not be treated like drunk drivers. The two are not comparable. As it turns out, they may have been right.
However, the NHTSA was very clear about the fact that further testing is needed to prove definitive results one way or another. We would like to remind our readers that test results, however conclusive they may be, and however well they support your beliefs about a subject, are not laws. This may be encouraging news in that it offers hope for a future with fewer criminalizing marijuana laws. But it does not mean that you should feel free to get high and then go for a leisurely drive about town. Be careful, and think ahead when making choices about merging driving with the consumption of controlled substances.