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Driving While Under the Influence… Of Marijuana

By: ATSI Admin March 20, 2014 no comments

Driving While Under the Influence… Of Marijuana

jointWith its recent legalization of marijuana, is now legal for individuals in Colorado who are over the age of 21 to use marijuana recreationally. The state has released public service campaigns, however, that remind residents it is still illegal and very dangerous to drive while under the influence of pot.

Smoking and Driving Don’t Mix

Driving while under the influence of marijuana can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Still, with the marijuana debate as polarized as it is, there are many people who doubt that the drug even causes impairment. Many do not see marijuana as dangerous, and thus put themselves and others in risky situations. “As Coloradans now have more access to marijuana, we want them to be aware that law enforcement is trained to identify impairment by all categories of drugs and alcohol,” said in a statement by Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.

Marijuana primarily produces side effects related to mental impairment. The drug slows the nervous system, including large and small motor functions, and also slows reaction time. Colorado officials recognize that while marijuana-induced impairment might be okay when safely socializing, driving is another story. Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT, says, “Marijuana affects reaction time, short-term memory, hand-eye coordination, concentration and perception of time and distance. And just like alcohol, people driving while impaired by marijuana can receive a DUI.”

Officials are trying to help Colorado residents understand that in their state, marijuana is very much like alcohol, and it must be taken seriously and used responsibly. A September CDOT survey of 770 Coloradans found 21 percent had driven a motor vehicle after consuming marijuana sometime within the past month.

The Fight Against Teen Drug Use

As the recent marijuana debate continues to heat up across the country, teens may feel confused about whether or not pot is dangerous. It’s common for young people to assume that because a substance is technically legal in some areas, it can’t be that bad. However, marijuana has been found to have lasting effects, especially on developing brains. It also leads to memory loss, learning problems and impaired judgment. Over time, pot may also decrease motivation levels, making teens more susceptible to missed activities and/or opportunities that could prove beneficial to their futures.

Marijuana is called a “gateway drug” because young people often experiment with it before transitioning to harder, more dangerous substances. Parents should have regular talks with their teens about the dangers of any substance, and the many risks associated with driving while impaired.

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