Crash on the Couch, Not in Your Car
When it comes to cannabis and its interaction with other substances or activities, it’s up to you to be responsible.
You’ve read the warning labels on medication packages:
- Do Not Take on an Empty Stomach.
- May Cause Drowsiness or Dizziness.
- Caution: This Drug Alone or With Alcohol May Impair Your Ability to Drive.
- Do Not Drink Alcoholic Beverages When Taking This Medication.
Michigan cannabis products have few or no warning labels, so you’re on your own to understand some of the effects of cannabis use, how it interacts with other substances, and with activities like driving.
Driving & Cannabis Consumption
Many people turn to cannabis for relaxation, to take their mind off of reality, for distraction, for creative inspiration and bold ideas, and to sleep. None of those states of mind are well-matched with the attention required for safely driving a vehicle.
If you’ve been a long-time cannabis consumer, you’ve most likely hopped in the car with THC in your system—which is part of the issue around cannabis and driving. THC is a long-lasting substance. It settles in your body fat and can take up to three weeks to completely disappear from your system. But, we’re talking about active cannabis use and driving—and why consuming cannabis and then driving should be avoided—especially when alcohol is involved.
The effect of cannabis on driving performance varies significantly among individuals, especially when looking at cannabis-experienced versus new users. This makes it difficult to develop blood/THC impairment standards, unlike alcohol.
We know the critical attributes of safe driving—paying attention, vigilance, a person’s perception of time and speed can all be affected by cannabis use.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),“… a meta-analysis of 60 studies concluded that marijuana use causes impairment in every performance area that can reasonably be connected with the safe driving of a vehicle, such as tracking, motor coordination, visual functions, and particularly complex tasks that require divided attention.
The connection between how marijuana is consumed and the THC concentration it provides makes it difficult to assess driving impairment levels. Many of the accident studies cite multiple drug consumption, like using both alcohol and cannabis by the driver. Lack of data makes reliable research studies more difficult to find.