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Marijuana and your Daily Life

High and Driving

After years of advertising campaigns and school presentations, Duval County is conscious of the harmful consequences of drinking and driving. However, after some local Key Informant interviews ,we found  that when presented  with the options of their children either driving while drunk or high on marijuana, parents are favoring their children driving high. The better plan, Instead of choosing a lesser of two evils, is to step up and realize that both situations are impaired driving and both are illegal and deadly.

According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 10.3 million people aged 12 or older (or 3.9 percent of adolescents and adults) reported driving under the influence of illicit drugs during the year prior to being surveyed. After alcohol, THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana, is the substance most commonly found in the blood of impaired drivers, fatally injured drivers, and motor vehicle crash victims. Studies in several localities have found that approximately 4 to 14 percent of drivers who sustained injury or died in traffic accidents tested positive for THC.

After smoking marijuana the effects can last anywhere between 10 minutes to 12 hours, but reach their peak at 10-30 minutes after use. Common side effects include relaxed inhibitions, altered time and space perception, lack of concentration, impaired learning and memory, altered thought formation, drowsiness, sedation, panic reactions, and paranoia. Increased doses of marijuana can intensify reactions and cause fluctuation in emotions, a dulled sense of attention despite heightened insight, image distortion and psychosis.

During simulators, marijuana has been shown to impact driver’s behaviors for up to 3 hours after use. Decreased car handling, increased reaction times, impaired time and distance estimation, inability to maintain a headway, lateral travel, subjective sleepiness, and motor incoordination have all been observed. Driving while high on marijuana also causes the driver to attempt to make up for impairment, resulting in overcorrection and overcompensation.

Driving while impaired in any circumstance is never safe. It is not justifiable to choose one version of impairment over another, especially when thinking of the safety of the people we love.  Favoring driving while high versus drunk driving only sends a message to our kids and to the community that it is acceptable for them. Please do your best to keep our roads and community safe, the last thing we need is more accidents and premature deaths.

-Melanie Bright


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