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Pot Culture and Impaired Driving

January 5, 2018 2:41 pm Published by Comments Off on Pot Culture and Impaired Driving

It has always seemed to me an obvious sort of common sense that you shouldn’t impair your cognitive functions and then operate heavy machinery. As it turns out, either this line of thinking is not so prevalent, or the knee jerk reflex to defend marijuana, irrelevant of the situation at hand, will always dominate a conversation when its effects are placed under the microscope.

The California Highway Patrol’s Twitter feed sometimes posts prevention messages and statistics addressing being high behind the wheel. It was there I stumbled across a troubling thread of comments:

“Not true…alcohol is 100 times worse.”
“Nobody has impaired vision, slurred speech, and motor skills are not affected. The only thing that is affected is appetite.”
“You Are So Full Of Crap!! Marjuana Haters Told You That!! I Will Smoke Weed And Fly My Drone Anytime And Anywhere I Want!! It’s My Country!!”

This sent me down the rabbit hole of morbid curiosity. I started scanning Facebook and Youtube comment threads where the topic at hand was driving high. Without fail, these types of comments were at the top of nearly every post:

“You drive better stoned than sober.”
“I bet you I could probably pass the test no ****ing problem. **** the pigs man, smoking and driving DOES NOT affected you if you are a properly trained stoner.”
“I certainly can handle it. I’ve been driving high for a long time. I haven’t been pulled over, high or not high, in about 10 years. I daresay I’m probably a better driver when I’m high because I focus on driving, not on other shit. Why should I be punished because Joe Bob Dumb*ss can’t handle being high and driving?”
“However, unlike drunk drivers it can be very hard to identify a stoned driver”  – Hmm… Could it be because they drive completely normal just like everyone else? Even when I’m blazed off my *ss I still drive better than 95% of all of the dumbass sober drivers out there.”

The CDC states that:

Marijuana use is increasing and 13% of nighttime, weekend drivers have marijuana in their system.

Marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use, however other factors – such as age and gender – may account for the increased crash risk among marijuana users.

So why all the defensiveness? Has marijuana become so central to so many people’s lives that presenting a statement like, “messing with your brain and driving is a bad idea” feels like a personal attack? Even googling “why are people so defensive of pot?” primarily turns up people continuing to defend pot.

This kind of overreaction is not present when discussing drunk driving, texting and driving or even being drowsy and driving. What is the best way to approach this? Is it possible to address driving high at all in a responsible way without inciting a flame war?