Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law

What are the risks of driving after smoking marijuana?

With the legalization of recreational marijuana being so recent in California, you and many other residents may still be getting accustomed to not fearing legal repercussions for using the substance. However, it is important to realize that it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis. Even so, many marijuana enthusiasts believe it is harmless to drive after smoking marijuana or eating an edible, or they might not realize how long THC can remain in their system after the “high” has worn off. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point out that driving after smoking marijuana is not as harmless as driving after smoking an ordinary cigarette. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical element in marijuana that makes you high, has been found to impair drivers’ reaction time, coordination, judgment, perception and ability to make quick decisions. As you can imagine, these impairments can endanger you and others on the roads, as well as raise your chances of getting a DUI. 

However, you might not anticipate the potential problems of having THC in your system. THC can remain in your bloodstream for weeks after your last marijuana use, which may result in impaired driving charges even if you were sober and underwent a chemical blood test. If you rolled through a stop sign or swerved between lanes, that may be a reason for an officer to believe you were intoxicated, especially if THC was still in your system – despite not being high. Since this topic is complex, this post is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.