The National on CBC-TV tonight had a good investigative report on marijuana and how, in states such as Washington, police are dealing with drivers under the herb’s influence. (Yes, they call it a drug, but it is an herb . . . I digress.)
Why is Canada’s national broadcaster probing this? Because the new federal Liberal government promised during the recent election campaign to legalize marijuana if they were elected.
As one grieving man said in the report: The Liberals have not addressed the safety issue. The man lost his child in an automobile accident in which the driver at fault was alleged to be stoned on pot.
So, the CBC’s question was, essentially: how much pot does one have to consume to be considered too impaired to drive a motor vehicle?
The American experts interviewed in the report talked about THC levels in the blood, and some numbers were mentioned. But as more than one person countered, those levels might be meaningless — you could still have a high level of THC in your blood the day after you smoked it, even though your head is no longer affected, i.e. not stoned.
So, how should police determine if one is too stoned to be driving?
Well, I can only speak from personal experience, and maybe authorities need to hear from some of us older hippie types who used to smoke the stuff but have given it up. I haven’t had a joint since late 2008, but I was a pretty regular toker before that. My rule was never to drive stoned, so I only toked when I got home from work.
Pot is not like alcohol: you can have a class of wine or a beer and not be impaired. But I know from experience that a couple of hits of a joint is enough to get you pretty buzzed these days, what with all the hydroponic strains of weed out there. And you simply shouldn’t be driving under those circumstances.
So, my suggestion to the authorities: One should not drive on the same day or night they have had some pot. It’s not too much to ask.
But there is another issue authorities should consider: secondhand pot smoke. If joints are being passed around at a party, it is quite possible that abstaining designated drivers might get buzzed, too.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, because a lot of people smoke pot and drive. Some say pot makes you more cautious when driving, and you drive slower. But the statistics from the U.S. in places where pot is legal seem to indicate that the numbers of accidents involving people under the herb’s influence are rising.
That is cause for concern. One can only hope that Canada’s Liberal government will thoroughly study the issue and that firm safety guidelines will be in place before marijuana is legalized.