What about Smoking Cannabis and Driving?

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Let me make one thing absolutely clear – if you are in any way impaired (drugs, alcohol, cannabis) YOU MUST NOT DRIVE.

Period.

Absolutely period. End of sentence. No argument.

Having said that, there will always be people whose judgement is not the best. These are the people who drink and/or take drugs to the point of impairment and who then insist on driving. These people take their lives (and often the lives of others) into their own hands.

They deserve every penalty they get.

When I talk to people about legalizing cannabis, the impaired driving issue is an argument that constantly comes up. “What about those who smoke and drive? How can we protect ourselves from them?”

It’s a good and important question. We need to be safe from those who are impaired.

It’s a real problem. So how do we deal with it?

With education of course. Just like the alcohol industry has taught us to have designated drivers, we need to do the same with cannabis. Go ahead and drink or smoke but make sure that someone who has not imbibed does the driving.

And if you know someone has taken too much cannabis and is impaired – DO NOT GET IN THE CAR WITH THEM. Just as you would with someone who is drunk – do not drive with them and more importantly, if you can, take their car keys away.

It’s what we do when we look out for each other.

We also need to have films just like the ones we all saw in Driver’s Education which show the consequences of driving while impaired (or while texting.) We need to teach people about the very real consequences. And we need to talk about those consequences with our families.

We have a family rule in our house. If you ever find that you’re too impaired to drive – call mom and dad. We’ll pick you up with no questions asked. Every time. We want to keep you safe.

One of the problems with taking cannabis is that we don’t know how much is too much. Some people with a high tolerance can smoke or take a heck of a lot more cannabis than those who are more sensitive. A dose which might barely affect someone might be too much for someone else.

Just like if you drive while drunk and are clearly not in control of your vehicle, for impaired cannabis drivers there needs to be a field sobriety test. If you are spotted driving erratically, then you get pulled over and are given a test (recite the alphabet backwards, walk in a straight line) if you can’t pass the test or if it’s clear to the officer that you are impaired, you get taken in.

Another Period. Another end of sentence.

As you know I am a big proponent of legalizing cannabis.

But I’m also a big proponent of public safety.

There will be many who will use cannabis responsibly – just like many do with alcohol, a few drinks, and when you get that “feeling” you slow down or stop.  But there will always be those who take too much of anything (Prescription, drugs, alcohol, cannabis.)

We need to preemptively address this issue with education. And vigilance.  

And we also need to make sure that anyone who drives impaired after smoking cannabis takes full responsibility for their actions.

Period.


Wendy E. N. Thomas is a New Hampshire State Representative for Hillsborough District 21. She is also in the NH Therapeutic Cannabis program. Thomas agrees with the statewide Democratic platform of legalizing cannabis in New Hampshire, she would also like to see the Therapeutic Cannabis program expanded to include Anxiety, Lyme Disease, and insomnia (for starters.)

She also understands that people need to know about what cannabis can do, how to keep it away from children, and how to use it responsibly (in the same way that the alcohol industry talks about responsible drinking.)

All opinions reflected in this article and any future articles on the Democratic cannabis platform are the opinions of Representative Thomas and do not reflect any company or industry.

Thomas works at Prime ATC in Merrimack as a Patient Liaison. The contents of this article are not sanctioned by Prime ATC or any of its affiliates.