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Driving after smoking marijuana still illegal

Published 4:39pm Saturday, November 23, 2013

QUESTION: Can you be arrested for driving after smoking marijuana?

ANSWER: Yes, if you have been smoking marijuana, you can be arrested for impaired driving.

Marijuana produces a carefree state of mind and the illusion that senses are extra sharp. I remember when a friend who was a marijuana smoker shared the experience of believing she had a really profound thought while smoking the drug; she wrote it down so she would not forget it.

She found the note to herself a few days later. She had written down “This room stinks.” It is only logical that a person who has been smoking marijuana is more likely to be preoccupied with unusual thoughts or visions while driving than focusing on safe driving habits.

Relaxed inhibitions, a result of marijuana smoking, alter the marijuana smoker’s sense of time and space, making it difficult to make quick decisions and judge distances and speed. Marijuana use causes slow, disconnected thoughts, poor memory and paranoia. Drug research has found that even hours after the effect of the drug seems to be gone, the marijuana smoker’s ability to make driving decisions will still be impaired.

Nov. 29-30 and extended weekends in December are designated days for an impaired driver enhanced enforcement wave by Law Enforcement in Minnesota. When we see the message “Drive Sober,” we usually think of alcohol impairment, and when we think DUI (Driving Under the Influence) we also think alcohol; however, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, even statistics from six years ago (2007) show that in some localities up to 14 percent of drivers injured or killed in crashes tested positive for marijuana use.

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