Is it Dangerous to Smoke Marijuana and Drive? [The Facts]


There’s a lot of controversy surrounding driving with THC in your system in the many states where cannabis is legal for recreational use. Many studies have shown that it is relatively safe to drive with under 5 nanograms of THC per deciliter of blood. But other opponents, however, state that THC impairs your ability to react – no matter the amount.

In response to the legality of marijuana in many states, local jurisdictions have set limits in regards to the amount of THC which can be present in the bloodstream when driving. The current set ranges from between 2 to 5 nanograms per deciliter of blood as the current legal limit. This limit is for all ages, sexes, and so on. Additionally, weight is not taken into consideration when it comes to this limit.

Although the studies have shown that there are significant impairments in those driving with THC, many argue against them, stating that the studies and experiments had many flaws in the ways in which they were carried out. This has led many people to be skeptical of the new limit as they believe THC does not carry any sort of threat.

Driving High: What is the Truth?

As a response to the controversy, the researchers put together a new experiment which would help them to reach better conclusions regarding the THC issue. They used algorithms in conjunction with police reports and whether the accident was the fault of the driver or not. They also used blood samples straight from the hospital after the patients were required to provide a blood sample. This allowed for more accurate and reliable results which could be trusted more.

All in all, the conductors of the experiment sampled over 2,300 blood samples from drivers who had been in car accidents over a period of 6 years – from 2010 to 2016. The blood was taken from different Trauma Centers in Canada.

Of the drivers that were tested, around 192 of the drivers had THC detected in their blood samples. Other things that were detected were alcohol and recreational drugs as well as prescription medication. Many drivers possessed simultaneous substances in their bloodstream, but more than half of the drivers who had substances in their blood took responsibility for the accident, meaning they caused it.

The blood samples that tested positive for THC were all either below 2 nanograms per deciliter or no more than 5 nanograms per deciliter, which lead the conductors of the experiment to come to the conclusion that THC, no matter the amount, can affect your driving and lead to impairment.

Although it can affect driving, they concluded that cannabis has a small say in the risk of getting into an accident. There could have been many other factors which influenced the crashes and not just the THC, so the experiment is still a little flawed regardless, because it may be skewed due to other factors. Therefore, the researchers cannot officially say that there is a significant correlation between getting into a car accident and having small levels of THC in your blood.

They do, however, believe that there is much more risk when using alcohol or prescription medications when driving as opposed to marijuana. Therefore, it is concluded that there is a higher risk of road-related injury with alcohol and medication rather than with cannabis. Although cannabis may still be a factor.

Final Thoughts on Driving While High

With the legalization of cannabis, many people may take to driving after smoking. People are vastly different when it comes to cannabis; some people have little experience and a lot less tolerance than other people, which may have a say in them being at a higher risk of getting into an accident. Everyone has different reactions to cannabis, and people who have less experience with cannabis and even less experience with driving, such as younger people, are at an increased risk.

That isn’t to say that cannabis, on the whole, will not affect whether you will get into a car crash, but you should simply exercise caution on how THC affects you personally and your reactions. Smoking a large amount of THC could possibly be more dangerous than alcohol or prescription drugs when driving; it all depends on your body chemistry and how you react most importantly.

Still, the main consensus is that THC does impair you and should not be used when getting on the road under any circumstances. The drivers may have difficulty in reacting and responding to situations that may arise while on the road. They may also experience difficulty driving in a straight line and go left of center. It just overall leads to more distractions, which is not needed on a dangerous roadway where your life and the lives of others are on the line.