While marijuana may now be legal in California, it is still against the law to drive under influence of cannabis.
For good reason: according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, driving while cannabis-impaired can be lethal – hindering judgment, coordination and the ability to react. And using pot and alcohol together while driving significantly elevates the risk.
California is just the latest in a number of states – from Maine to Oregon – to legalize weed for recreational purposes. Colorado enacted legislation to legalize marijuana in 2014. A recent analysis by the Denver Post revealed that since pot was legalized in that state, the numbers of drivers who tested positive for marijuana and were involved in deadly accidents has surged, more than doubling over five years.
The recent legalization of recreational weed in the California has created a slew of similar issues for police, who are scrambling to deal with the potential surge in the number of people who may drive while “stoned.”
There are differences in the ways authorities handle cannabis-impaired and drunken drivers, but most courts penalize both offenses in similar ways. To learn more about the California’s new law – and the implications of “driving high” – read here.