Marijuana and driving is a hotbed issue. Many people don’t feel that marijuana can impair them as much as alcohol, so they are not concerned about operating a vehicle high. But now a federal agency is cracking down urging states to mandate marijuana impaired warning labels on products to raise awareness on possible dangers.
Read on to find out more about the new proposed legislation and marijuana and driving issues.
The Marijuana and Driving Mandate
The need for the new proposed legislation has come to light after the release of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report which provided an overview of the crash risk associated with alcohol and drug use and the measures taken to decrease impairment-related crashes.
One countermeasure the NTSB believes is necessary is labeling that educates consumers about the dangers of marijuana and driving. Currently, some states require labeling while others do not.
The report notes that there are currently no “federal requirements for labeling cannabis” as marijuana is illegal on a federal level. However, they are requesting that states take a lesson from Canada, a nation in which cannabis is legal and hence includes warning labels on all marijuana products.
There are currently laws in place throughout the United States to put impaired driving warning labels on all alcohol products. The study reflects on this noting “evidence suggests that alcohol labeling had little effect on behavioral change, some authors have suggested that even small effects can be meaningful if a product is widely used.”
How Many States Use Marijuana and Driving Warning Laws?
Another study found that all 31 U.S. states with legalized cannabis have some labeling requirements. 26 have labeling concerning impairment, but they are not specific to driving.
For example, Maryland marijuana companies are required to include labels with warnings about driving impaired. Oklahoma, on the other hand, only includes labels stating risks for pregnant women and youth.
The NTSB analyzed laws in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico recognizing there were 23 jurisdictions where cannabis is legal, but labeling is not required. 12 of these jurisdictions have no labeling concerning marijuana and driving impairments, 4 only have labeling requirements in place for certain cannabis products. 7 do not have labeling requirements warning against driving after cannabis use.
The study notes that while it’s unclear whether including warning labels would influence driving behaviors and reduce crashes, it will make them aware that cannabis can impair driving. Many drivers are unaware that this is the case.
The NTSB is urging states to mandate driver-impairment labeling. They believe that Canada and other states that use labeling will serve as an example and other states will follow suit.
Other Steps Being Taken to Raise Awareness on Driving and Marijuana Risks
There have been other steps that have been taken to promote the potential dangers of marijuana and driving. For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has promoted a public safety campaign on the dangers of driving after cannabis use including one featuring a confusingly cool looking cheetah getting pulled over for weed-related erratic driving.
There have also been attempts to create a standardized test for marijuana impaired driving. In November, U.S. Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) called for an update on the barriers holding up the test. As a result, The Department of Transportation is required to fill out a report concerning the bill’s status, due by November 2023.
Is Driving on Marijuana Bad?
While attempts are made to decrease driving under the influence of cannabis, studies are also being conducted regarding marijuana and driving. How bad is it really?
A 2019 study showed those who drive at the legal THC level, which has been established as two to five nanograms per milliliter of blood, were not statistically more likely to be involved in an accident as compared to people who did not use cannabis.
The Congressional Research Service released separate data in 2019 stating, “marijuana consumption can affect a person’s response times and motor performance (but) studies of the impact of marijuana consumption on a driver’s risk of being involved in a crash have produced conflicting results, with some studies finding little or no increased risk of a crash from marijuana usage.”
Another study published in 2021 showed that smoking CBD marijuana had little impact on participant’s driving abilities even though most exhibited levels of cannabis exceeding the legal limit.
Inaccuracy with Testing for Marijuana and Driving
As of now, there is no clear evidence on how marijuana affects drivers. There are further complications as marijuana stays in body tissues for 28 days. This makes it impossible for law enforcement to determine whether someone was high while driving or if they simply have lingering traces of the drug in their system.
It’s also impossible to say how long you will feel high after marijuana use i.e. how long you should hold off on driving after partaking. This will vary from person to person and will also depend on how much they smoked, the strength of the product and the consumption method.
The marijuana and driving debate rages on. South Coast Safe Access is willing to comply with all laws that are in place. What’s more, we help our community by providing safe, effective products that are beneficial to wellness. Contact us to find out about our quality cannabis flower, pre-rolls, vape carts and more.
We look forward to serving you!