It was a fatal Tuesday night for Fremont California.
Speeding down the road, a young man under the influence of cannabis caused a multi-car crash. Sadly, the car accident claimed the lives of 3 individuals, and 2 of them were children.
After the accident, many California residents began to wonder, is it dangerous to drive high? Was the at-fault driver choosing to drive recklessly, and speed, or was his judgment impaired from marijuana use?
It's difficult to say the exact cause of the crash since the effects of marijuana can be unpredictable. While one person may only experience a mild high, the same amount of marijuana could make someone else feel completely out of their mind.
If you’re new to using cannabis, you’ll want to be certain you know exactly how marijuana will affect you personally. Read on to learn the truth about driving under the influence of cannabis.
Is It Dangerous to Drive High?
To help you understand the risks involved with driving high, we’ll start by explaining how marijuana affects your mind and body.
Marijuana is a chemical compound that has mind-altering capabilities. The most prominent psychoactive ingredient, THC, can activate the pleasure center of your brain.
The pleasure center of your brain is what releases the feel-good chemical dopamine into your bloodstream. When you vape marijuana or smoke it, the THC can quickly absorb into your bloodstream.
Studies show that after smoking cannabis, users begin experiencing symptoms within 3-5 seconds. After the initial symptoms begin, the peak of the experience will usually take place after 30 minutes. Finally, after about 1- 3 hours, the effects of smoking marijuana will wear off. Yet, the effects will continue to persist if the user smokes multiple times throughout the day.
THC Affects Everyone Differently
Earlier, we mentioned that the THC in marijuana can stimulate the pleasure center of your brain. Yet, this doesn’t mean that everyone who uses marijuana will experience it as a pleasurable experience. Instead, marijuana tends to deliver personal experiences that can vary greatly from person to person.
For some people, the side effects of marijuana are anxiety-inducing. Rather than helping them calm down, some people become overly anxious as more THC floods their bloodstream. Even veteran marijuana users have reported feeling panicked after consuming cannabis.
The unpredictability of how THC will affect someone makes prescribing the right dosage tricky for doctors. While one patient may get relief from 5 mg of cannabis, another may find the amount to be too strong.
In many cases, doctors will advise patients to try half of the recommended dose. Then the patient can gradually take more until they’ve taken the whole dosage amount. This way users can slowly begin to feel the effects of THC and stop using marijuana before the effects become too extreme.
Marijuana and Eyesight
To answer the question “is it dangerous to drive high?”, let’s look at how marijuana affects your vision. Marijuana has psychoactive properties. Yet that doesn't mean you'll be seeing things that aren't there or hallucinating.
Instead, cannabis causes users to see the world differently than they normally would. Colors may appear more vibrant than they normally would. The green of the stoplight might look more alive, and you could wind up starring at it instead of driving forwards.
If you're ever involved in a car accident, and the police suspect your high, you could be taken into custody. Learn more about your rights regarding car accidents now, that way you're prepared if one ever does occur.
Familiar objects can seem foreign to someone on cannabis, and moving objects, like leaves blowing in the wind, can be distracting. All of these effects on your vision point towards marijuana use being dangerous for drivers.
How Cannabis Affects Hearing
Another important part of being a driver is being able to hear what’s happening around you. Yet, similar to how marijuana can distort your vision, it can also play tricks on the sounds you hear. Noises that would normally make sense, like a honking horn, can be a startle you into confusion while high.
The jolt of someone honking at you could be enough to cause you to accidentally step on the gas before you look to see where you’re going. Other issues with your hearing while high are that you’re more likely to become wrapped up in songs.
Music playing on your radio can become all-consuming when you’re using marijuana. Instead of paying attention to the road in front of you, you’re more likely to be completely devoted to hearing every note the music has to offer.
Reaction Time and Marijuana
Left, right, stop, go, drivers are constantly having to make choices. Specifically, the choices you need to make quickly to remain safe. Here’s how being high can affect a driver’s reaction time:
- Brain binds with THC
- Perception of time slows down
- Delay in decision making
Inside your brain, there’s a network called the thalamo-corticostriatal circuit. This circuit is responsible for your perception of time. The thalamus-cortico-striatal circuit is also the area that has receptors that bind with THC.
When someone consumes cannabis, the THC chemical compounds find their way to the brain’s time processing circuit. Once in your brain, the THC will attach itself to the receptors.
Researchers are finding that when THC attaches to the receptors, your internal clock begins to speed up. As a result, the world around you can appear to be slowing down. So, drivers who are high on marijuana will have a hard time reacting promptly, since their brain’s won’t be perceiving time correctly.
Enjoying Your High
Instead of asking, “Is it dangerous to drive high?”, you should be asking, “what’s the most enjoyable activity to do while high?”. Not only is driving while high dangerous, but it’s also the fastest way to ruin your marijuana experience.
Medical and recreational marijuana can provide users with the type of results they need to live their best lives. Pain, anxiety and other conditions can all benefit from the consumption of cannabis. Yet, if you want to maximize your marijuana experience, you’ll need to set yourself up in the right environment.
A good environment for using marijuana is one where you feel safe and cozy, like your living room. Want to know the best home improvement projects to make your house feel like home? Check out our Home section today!