10 Reasons why so many cannabis consumers are driving while high

Published Aug 7, 2020 09:00 a.m. ET
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Some people are concerned about the number of impaired drivers that are on the road, but the latest substance in focus is cannabis, as there is still plenty of controversy over its threat to public health. Though there are a few regions that have reported a slight increase in the number of impaired drivers who used cannabis most are remaining consistent, with no spikes due to ease of access, but many still wonder why cannabis users would take such a risk, and here we’ll reveal the top ten most cited reasons for driving high.

1. Most cannabis users don’t believe that it leaves them impaired

That’s right, the majority of cannabis consumers who admit to driving while high say that they aren't impaired at all when they do so. It is such a socially acceptable thing to do among the cannabis community that most simply do not see any threat or danger when they consider whether or not they should be driving while they could potentially be impaired.

2. For some, driving while high is necessary to maintain treatment

It is important to note that many cannabis users partake because it offers them some sort of relief, and in order to achieve that, like with any medicine, they need to maintain a consistent dose of cannabinoids, which means that they always have cannabis products flowing through their system. According to current Canadian road laws, getting high before driving is a fineable offense, but medicinal patients often don’t report the same euphoric feelings as recreational consumers, and they have no choice but to risk it when they head out on the roads.

3. Driving in urban centers can be stressful

If you live in a busy area, then you’ll likely agree that driving can be pretty stressful, particularly during rush hours when the traffic is lined up bumper to bumper and tensions of angry travelers are running high. Some consumers like getting high before driving because it affords them the patience to deal with the insanity of it all, though there is no scientific evidence to back up this idea, many swear that it works for them, and that can lead them to consume more than normal before getting behind the wheel.

4. Unplanned detours

You just sat back at home and smoked a big fat blunt, and then suddenly you hear the phone ringing. On the other end is your boss who wants you to pick up a shift for a coworker, or some other important person in your life. Do you drop everything and go? Can you afford to say no? Many cannabis enthusiasts end up driving high out of necessity for reasons just like this that take them on unplanned road trips.

5. There is no reasonable way for law enforcement to detect cannabis

Law enforcement agencies and experts who assist in techniques and technology that is used to catch impaired drivers are working on several different prototypes to test drivers for cannabis consumption, but at this point in time, there is no way for them to prove without a doubt that an individual had consumed cannabis shortly before getting behind the wheel of a car. There are mouth swab tests in circulation and breathalyzers being designed, but so far, nothing is reliable in a court of law, which leaves very few tools at an officer's disposal to determine whether or not a driver is impaired.

6. Comfortability through experience


The first time that you throwback a big cup of coffee, you are likely to feel so jittery that you won’t want to do anything like drive a car, but it doesn’t take long before you get used to it and learn how to use it as a tool to stay awake, and the same holds true for cannabis. A user’s first time might be intense, but after multiple experiences with getting high and ample opportunity to get behind the wheel after doing it, comfortability, and confidence build-up, which makes the activity just a normal part of everyday life.

7. The effects of cannabis wear off quickly

Though many tend to believe that the high from cannabis can last for several hours, that only seems to be true with oral ingestion of significant doses. In fact, some of the latest research into the matter suggested that the effects of cannabis only truly impair a person for approximately 30 minutes after it’s consumed, suggesting that there might be even fewer impaired cannabis consumers on the road than the experts initially thought.

8. The media

The media like to sensationalize reckless behavior like driving impaired, and that is especially true when it comes to cannabis. A quick look through old stoner flicks like Cheech and Chong, where the entire series shows the duo behind the wheel of cars and motorcycles while they are more than obviously impaired. It’s a common joke that is made, that cannabis slowing a driver’s reaction could work in favor of those around them, as they’ll be more likely to sit waiting for a stop sign to change than they would be to drive like a lunatic, but even these behaviors are dangerous when they’re practiced in the real world.

9. Getting high is often viewed as the lesser of two evils

For some people, recreational drugs are utilized as a crutch of sorts, and society in general, seems to believe that it is safer to drive while under the influence of cannabis than it is to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel, many opt for smoking a joint instead of drinking a beer. According to clinical research, this may, in fact, be true, but much more thorough investigating is necessary before advocating for such a decision with any sort of confidence.

10. Recognizing the reality at hand

We don’t truly know how long the effects of getting high can leave any one person impaired, and it’s also a question of how much it actually changes things like reaction time and awareness. Since there is no way to truly measure the risk, many will simply go with their gut instinct out of necessity. Most have a personal gauge of how high they are, and they’re confident in this practice, and until or unless new information comes out saying otherwise, they aren’t about to follow an arbitrary law anymore now than they did prior to legalization.

No increase in impaired driving rates since marijuana legalization


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