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Driving high: Marijuana use puts drivers in danger

In a recent post on this blog, we discussed the fact that marijuana laws are changing across the country. While recreational use is still illegal in Pennsylvania and on the federal level, the state does allow people to legally use medical marijuana. Other states have also made all marijuana use legal.

Having said that, there are people who assume that this means there are few dangers associated with marijuana. That is not true, though. There are risks of using marijuana, especially if you get behind the wheel while under its influence.

The dangers of drugged driving

Operating heavy machinery, including a motor vehicle, is unwise for anyone who is under the influence of pot. Users can experience a range of effects, from slowed reflexes and impaired judgment to paranoia and reckless behaviors. 

When a driver is drugged, he or she cannot devote the necessary cognitive, visual and/or manual functions to driving. Drugged drivers can be easily distracted and suffer from impaired vision; they may not be able to respond fast enough to changing road conditions. This makes them a serious hazard.

Trouble keeping drugged drivers off the road

Unfortunately, countless people still get behind the wheel after using marijuana. These drivers often don't realize or care that they are putting other people's lives in danger, making it difficult to keep them from driving.

Another issue with keeping drugged drivers off the road has to do with the challenges of identifying drugged drivers in the context of car accidents. As noted in this ABC News article, marijuana is often used with alcohol, making it difficult to determine the extent of impairment caused by each substance.

Further, police and others don't always think conducting a drug test after a crash is necessary, as the effects of marijuana use may be less obvious than the signs of other drug use or alcohol intoxication.

Dealing with drugged drivers

State and federal governments continue to assess the legality of marijuana as well as options for making it easier to identify and penalize drivers who are impaired by the drug. In the meantime, if you are injured by a drugged driver in a crash, you can examine your legal options with an attorney.

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