Whether it is called pot, weed, grass or marijuana, this drug is recognized as the most trafficked and abused drug in the world. Controlled studies being carried out show that cannabis can affect someone negatively ranging from physical effects to mental. Despite these studies, other researchers find the drug to have health benefits to some extent. Some states legalize it for medical use while others for recreational purposes depending on the law. With many people thinking cannabis is “safe”, how does it affect someone behind the wheel? The state of the driver after using the drug is truly questionable.
On the road, people have to look out for the safety of not only themselves but also for other road users. Being alert on the road is key to achieving this goal and also to avoid breaking traffic rules therefore staying out of trouble. Driving while intoxicated is against the law and attracts penalties such as a fine or jail term which vary from one country to another. This is because a person under the influence does may be impaired in terms of judgement hence violate the rules or put lives in danger. Does the same apply to those who indulge themselves in the use of cannabis and at the same time navigate a vehicle?
There are contradictions concerning whether cannabis affects the skills of drivers and whether it increases the chances of car accidents. Some controlled experiments have been carried out and they seem to produce different results altogether. While some suggest that those under the influence are at a higher risk of causing accidents, others suggest that those under the influence of cannabis are more cautious on the road. These experiments were made possible through virtual driving after allowing some fans of the drug to take it before embarking on the test.
Even though it is said to have medical benefits, the perception that cannabis is safe has led many to abuse the drug. It is now a trend in some movies, rap songs and even on social media platforms as a way to get attention. With small term effects like hallucinations to long term effects like impaired thinking, taking the wheel while under the influence does not seem as a good idea. Since cannabis affects ones perception of speed and time, a person driving under the influence may react slowly than someone who is sober.
Hand-eye coordination may also may be affected to the point of not being able to coordinate a vehicle since the hands and eyes are very essential. This can result in car accidents although chances of accidents do not increase significantly. Other researchers argue that cannabis users are at a lower chance of crashing than those who are sober due to overestimating the impairment thus compensate by behavioral changes like driving slowly. However, behavioral changes do not compensate entirely for being intoxicated as cannabis can lead to incorrect decisions. Even though those under the influence of cannabis are said to follow the correct lane, it is evident that they tend weave on the road a lot especially when “high”.
This topic has truly become complex since in most cases, it is difficult to find out if drivers involved in accidents were under the influence since cannabis can still be found in blood days after a person used it. While there is still debate as to whether cannabis users are more susceptible to accidents, there is no point in risking. Legalized or not, it also goes against the law to drive while under the influence of any drug. Better safe than sorry.
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