As everyone knows by now, Proposal 1 passed and soon Michiganders will be able to use recreational marijuana. As you and your friends celebrate the end of the pot prohibition, remember that it’s not only against the law to drive high, but it’s incredibly dangerous.
I know a lot of people who say they drive fine when they’re high, or some even bold enough to say that their driving is better after they’ve smoked a little weed. These are the same excuses people used for driving drunk, excuses that we no longer tolerate for alcohol and shouldn’t for marijuana either. No matter how you look at it, cannabis is a mind-altering substance — if it weren’t, you wouldn’t have any reason to smoke it. If you’re high, your ability to drive safely is impaired. Period.
This isn’t an anti-marijuana rant. I wasn’t as highly opinionated on Proposal 1 as many people were, but I was highly informed about the proposal and supported it with my vote. Great things can come out of legalization including increased tax revenue, increased tourism and fewer people going through our court system for minor drug infractions. You are fooling yourself, though, if you believe that there are no negatives involved in legalization. However, if we are careful with our cannabis consumption, Michigan can be a shining example of how those negatives don’t have to be the norm.
The numbers don’t lie: in states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, the number of traffic accidents and deaths related to marijuana use has skyrocketed. Driving under the influence is a severe problem, but we can be part of the change by knowing not to drive after smoking or eating edibles, and by not letting our friends drive high either. It isn’t always an easy confrontation when you have to tell your friend not to get behind the wheel, especially if you have to take their keys. But I promise it is better than them getting a DUI or causing a car crash that could be fatal to them or others.
Enjoy the legalization of marijuana to the fullest and smoke all you want, but remember: just because driving high might not be as dangerous as driving drunk, it’s still dangerous, even for the most experienced smokers. Call a friend for a ride or a taxi, or if you have to, wait it out for a few hours before driving. By not driving high, we can save lives and help Michigan be a better example for the benefits of legalization.