Cannabis and Driving – Is it Legal if You Have Cannabis Recommendation in California?- March 01, 2019
Now that medical cannabis is legal in the state of California, many individuals have been able to alleviate the symptoms of their medical conditions with cannabis. Apart from medical cannabis, recreational cannabis has also been legalized in the state of California. However, it still remains federally illegal. And as cannabis is still not legal at the federal law, MMJ patients are required to obtain medical marijuana recommendation from a qualified doctor to legally buy and consume it.
Since it hasn’t been long since cannabis has been legalized, California cannabis consumers are not well-versed with the regulations surrounding its use and consumption.
Things can get extremely confusing for cannabis users who get behind the wheel under the influence of cannabis and drive throughout and even outside of the state. Many consumers are not well-aware of the laws regarding the use of cannabis behind the wheel.
According to a survey, it was found that more than 50% of respondents admitted that they are not aware of the laws related to medical marijuana and driving. The other 50% of California residents claimed to have “somewhat knowledge” about it.
Unfortunately, having “somewhat knowledge” is not enough especially if you don’t want to get into trouble for driving under the influence of the drug. As a matter of fact, legal penalties are very strict for impaired drivers.
Since cannabis is legal, is it okay to get behind the wheel if you’re high?
Well, let get this straight – alcohol is legal, is drunk driving legal too? Of course no! Also, oxycodone or codeine is legal too in the state of California if only a doctor prescribes them. But it doesn’t make it legal to consume and then get behind the wheel.
Similarly, it’s illegal to drive a vehicle when you are under the influence of cannabis – medical or recreational. Yes, even if you have a cannabis recommendation in California. You are prohibited from driving under the influence of the drug. Period.
How do you know if you are impaired driving? Can you drive if you are a little high?
Explain “a little high” or a “little drunk” or “buzzed.” The fact is you cannot. Because you don’t know! The thing is nobody really knows when they are “a little high”. You still might have noticed posters that tell you, depending on your weight and sex, how much alcohol consumed can get you “a little drunk.” But when it comes to cannabis, there’s nothing available.
How “under the influence” of cannabis is legally defined?
A driver is considered to be driving under the influence of the drug when:
His or her physical or mental abilities are impaired in such a way that they are unable to operate a motor vehicle.
How is it confirmed that you are driving under the influence of the drug?
Proving that you are driving after consuming cannabis can lead to serious consequences. However, it is not easy for the prosecutor to find out whether you are under the influence of cannabis while driving. It’s because, under California law, there isn’t any legal limit for cannabis. California is different from other states and does not have any restrictions on the THC amount that can be found in the blood of the driver. THC is an active cannabinoid present in cannabis. It is what gives the high experience.
While some cannabis strains have low THC content, many cannabis strains can have up to 80% of THC in them. Therefore, it’s always suggested to consume strains that are rich in CBD but don’t have high THC content. In fact, high-CBD strains are considered best to have relief from serious medical ailments.
Also Read: Cannabis Responsible Use
How long should you wait to drive after consuming cannabis?
No two people are the same. And thus there is no particular amount of time the consumer should wait before getting behind the wheel after using the herb. The levels of impairments differ significantly across people and situations depending on factors such as THC content in the cannabis strain, time since use, method of consumption, and particular pattern use (deep inhalation, frequency of use, etc.)
Impairment effects such as decision-making deficits, concentration, and attention can sometimes last for a full day, and even longer than that if you are consuming it frequently i.e. 4-5 times every week.
Impairment caused by the consumption of cannabis increases the risk of car crashes and accidents in the area. If you are driving under the influence of the drug, you are not only at the risk of getting involved in serious vehicle accidents but also may face legal charges such as monetary penalties, vehicle impoundments, and license suspensions. Therefore, it’s always advisable to consume it only when you know you don’t have to drive anytime soon.