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Does using marijuana affect your ability to drive?

As the debate over legalizing marijuana rages in legislative sessions all over the country, Colorado has forged its own path. Since 2012, marijuana usage has been legal for those 21 and over. Unfortunately, the pot-smoking trend may have a negative effect on the roads, as drivers under the influence are more likely to cause accidents.

Just because marijuana usage is legal does not mean that it is legal to drive while under the influence of the drug. As users take to the roads, the danger to other drivers and pedestrians increases. 

Decision-making ability and reaction time

Marijuana affects the portion of the brain that controls balance, coordination and movement. The drug also can impact memory and judgment, and studies show that those driving under the influence may have an altered perception of speed and time and a decreased level of attentiveness. This is especially true for those who only smoke on occasion.

More weed means more danger

Those who only smoke a small amount of marijuana may be more cautious and safer than those who smoke a larger amount, as they are more aware of their altered state. Drivers who are high tend to be less aware of their speed, react more slowly to unexpected obstacles and traffic lights and weave through lanes more often.

The first hour is the most dangerous

Research suggests that once marijuana has been in the system for two to three hours, it is safer to drive, but in that first hour after smoking the risks of getting in an accident are almost doubled. The effects of marijuana are strongest during the first hour, making it harder to make the quick decisions and fast movements that can prevent an accident.

Injuries that last a lifetime

Even smoking the smallest bit of pot and then driving can lead to a serious car accident that affects another for a lifetime. If you were injured in an accident with a driver who was under the influence, consider consulting an attorney immediately.


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