Driving under the influence of alcohol is a huge problem in this country, and those of us who do not reside beneath a rock are fully aware of that fact. What seems to get little or no attention in this country is the problem of driving under the influence of marijuana.
Smoking marijuana is known to impair perception, judgment, and the ability to concentrate. It can induce paranoia, hallucinations, and panic attacks. And yet for some reason, there is little fuss made about the dangers of smoking pot and then getting behind the wheel of a car.
Why do we so strongly discourage the practice of drinking alcohol and driving? Well, the first huge reason is that drinking alcohol impairs judgment – much the same as smoking marijuana. As far as impaired ability to concentrate – it goes without saying that the ability to concentrate on the task at hand is at least slightly important when driving am automobile.
Smoking marijuana also affects the ability to react. If you have ever been high, or seen someone who is high, the lack of ability to react quickly to a situation can seem amusing. And it probably is amusing in the safety of a home. Unfortunately for those who choose to smoke marijuana and get behind the wheel of a car, reaction time is critical when it comes to driving an automobile.
Am I anti-marijuana? Nope. I do not smoke the drug myself, but if alcohol is legal (and I do enjoy the occasional margarita or three) then marijuana should also be legal. Many of the bad side effects are the same between alcohol and marijuana – impaired judgment, inability to concentrate, delayed reaction time – are the same.
In fact, if I had to choose one of the two drugs to be legal, I would probably lean towards marijuana simply because I have never seen a violent pothead and I have seen plenty of violent drunks.
But if the two drugs are going to be used – legally or otherwise – then the same rules of safety should be applied. In other words – don’t toke and drive. If you are going to smoke pot – have a designated driver, just as you would if you were going to drink alcohol.
And remember that the effects of marijuana take more than 24 hours to wear off, so do not feel that you are safe to blaze up and then drive a couple of hours later.