According to a new survey conducted by The Harris Poll, Americans think it is more dangerous to text and drive then to be high on cannabis while driving.
The poll results showed that 99% of respondents felt using social media while driving is dangerous, while 98% said the same about texting and driving. When asked about being under the influence of cannabis while driving, 91% said that was dangerous; but only 40% of respondents thought driving while high is a contributing factor to more motor vehicle accidents.
On the surface, it seems like something that involved keeping your eyes on the road would be a less dangerous activity than something that involved taking your eyes off the road. At least people who can see what’s going on around them have a fighting chance of avoiding an accident. But this, of course, is a simplistic view of the issue of using cannabis and driving.
The fact of the matter is that a lot of factors are involved, not only in driving while high, but also when it comes to how stats on it are compiled and presented. Because of the way cannabis is absorbed by the body, you can’t just measure a blood level and determine how impaired someone is. A person with a high tolerance for cannabis who just smoked a lot of it will generally have an easier time behind the wheel than someone with little tolerance who only smoked a tiny bit of marijuana. A lot also depends on how the cannabis was ingested (smoke, vapor, edible) and how long it has been since the last ingestion. Cannabis affects everyone differently.
Compounding these problems is the fact that cannabis stays in your system long after the high has worn off. Someone who smoked a couple joints at a party on Saturday night will still have THC in their system as they drive to work Monday morning, but are they “under the influence” of cannabis or in any way impaired by the cannabis they smoked 36 hours before?
Eventually, advancing technology will likely create a better way to determine if someone is impaired by their marijuana use enough that they should not drive, but until then it’s important to remember that 1) you should never get behind a wheel if doing so puts yourself and others in danger, and 2) the amount of THC in someone’s blood in no way points to their level of impairment.