marijuana dui

Blaa Sy

Professor Ramos

English 102, 9:30-10:55am

25 June 2018

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Driving under the influence, also known as DUI, does not just refer to alcohol. DUI refers to driving while impaired or intoxicated after consumption of alcohol or other drugs, including marijuana. An individual that consumes marijuana knows they are intoxicated but still takes a risk when driving. Since recreational marijuana was legalized in November 2016, accidents have increased over the years (Wikipedia). The problem with marijuana today is that most individuals do not know that smoking and driving is considered illegal. Solutions to help minimize DUI incidents related to marijuana include education, more DUI randomized checkpoints, increased awareness with advertisements gearing towards marijuana use similar to drinking alcohol and driving while intoxicated. When stopped by law enforcement, officers should follow the protocol of alcohol testing for marijuana use detection to help minimize DUI incidents and dangers. To achieve awareness of marijuana’s DUI severity and safety implications, however, society needs to first understand its therapeutic advantages, recreational use trends, legalization history, and adverse effects.

Medical marijuana was first legalized in California in 1996 with many other states following suit afterward (Wikipedia). As of November 2016, physicians within 29 states have been allowed to prescribe medical marijuana to their patients based on medical necessity. Medical marijuana helps treat numerous health condition, such as Alzheimer’s disease, pain related to cancer, muscle spasms, nausea, and to reduce any pain related to side effects from prescribed drugs or chronic conditions (HPIM 469e). Furthermore, the main metabolites of marijuana, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinoid (CBD), have their own side effects which may impair judgment and coordination resulting in motor vehicle accidents and fatalities.

Medical and recreational marijuana both use the marijuana plant, or more specifically the metabolites contained within, to treat diseases or conditions. The marijuana plant contains more than 100 different chemicals called cannabinoids (CBD), which affect the body differently. The main active compounds used in therapeutic medicine are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (HPIM 269e).  According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), “When marijuana is smoked, THC and other chemicals in the plant pass from the lungs into the bloodstream [and] throughout the body to the brain” (2018). THC is the main ingredient and reason consumers experience euphoria through inhalation or ingestion, such as smoking or eating brownies, respectively. Some people experience a euphoric high, such as relaxation and satisfaction from a hefty appetite, while others experience bloodshot eyes, tachycardia, depression, and hallucinations (ProCon 1). THC side effects can last up to 24 hours after smoking marijuana. With long-term use, marijuana consumers need to be aware of severe biological and psychological changes. Side effects of chronic THC use include decreased testosterone levels, decreased sperm count, decreased sperm motility, gynecomastia, sedation, decreased concentration, and impaired perceptual and psychomotor function (HPIM 469e). Chronic THC use has also been reported to increase the risk of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients. If used before the age of 17, consumers have shown to be at an increased risk for alcohol dependence, cognitive deficits, and polysubstance abuse (HPIM 469e). A solution to help prevent driving under the influence of marijuana is to educate adolescent and teenager populations.

In today’s society, marijuana and other drugs are introduced to adolescence at a very young age. If drug education and awareness were offered to elementary and middle schools, then children will develop better decision-making abilities to apply what they have been taught. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states, “Behaviors that are a normal aspect of [kids’] development, such as the desire to try new things take greater risks, may increase teen tendencies to experiment with drugs” (2014). Adolescent educational programs and awareness induce a higher chance for potential consumers to turn down drugs. A study showed that drugs are introduced to children between the ages of 12 and 13, upon which 2.9 percent were already using drugs (NIDA 2014). The study further compared age groups and drug abuse prevalence, upon which 8 percent of 14 to 15-year-old abused drugs, 11.2 percent of 16 to 17 years old, 10.4 percent of ages 18-20, and 21 to 25 years old being the lowest at 4.5 percent. The most critical ages for preventing drug addiction is between 14 and 15 years old when kids are transitioning from middle to high school. For example, my sister, Kristy, was introduced to a recreational drug at the age of 16. Afterward, Kristy tried the different type of drugs due to influences from friends during and after school. During this experimental phase of polysubstance abuse, she was sick all the time. Eventually, Kristy was caught doing drugs in the house and kicked out by my parents. To this very day, she is still learning consequential life lessons and continues to abuse illegal substances. Had she learned about issues and problems arising from drug use early on, perhaps her life’s situation would have been better and more promising.

Another solution to the problem is increasing awareness through visual advertisements in regards to gateway drugs, such as marijuana. Marijuana requires as much public awareness as alcohol’s association with DUIs receives. Example of promotional advertisements includes informative two to three-minute commercials and billboards addressing dangers of driving after THC consumption. All states should put up billboards across freeways and buildings advertising such educational and informative factors. Billboards with small phrases, such as “Don’t Drive High” or “No Drugs and Driving,” would help drivers understand that driving under the influence of marijuana is also considered a DUI. With the help of such advertisements and increased public awareness, car accidents and fatalities associated with marijuana would decline eventually.

Government and lawmaking policies are a necessity in controlling marijuana use upon which every state currently has different measurements of tolerance for THC to be considered a DUI offense (Ghose 1). To improve on this, the United States needs to have an agreeable and accurate amount of THC present in urine analysis to be considered a DUI across the board without fluctuations or differences within each state. A logical suggestion was proposed by Turner and Agrawal, which states that “the lower limits [of THC] range from 20 to 100 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL) (2). Urine THC concentration greater than 100 ng/mL would be considered dangerous and at extremely high values would be toxic (Agrawal 2). For levels above 100 ng/mL, impaired judgment definitely becomes a critical factor and should be the standard every state should consider for regulating THC use while driving and issuing DUI tickets.

In promoting a legal protocol establishment, we can use the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which is the system of law enforcement used to track fatal crashes in the United States. Crashes are categorized by the driver who dies on the scene, drivers who die en route to a hospital, drivers who were transported and survived, and drivers who survived without transportation and medical treatment at a hospital (Logan 122-129).

Young and old generations need to be more informative of what marijuana is and the side effects. Since the legalization of marijuana, more individuals are consuming it publically and driving under its influence. Personally, I see it on a daily basis at work, on outings, and in the streets with consumers walking around and smelling like weed. Most marijuana users do not think that it is considered a DUI if pulled over and detained. Little do THC consumers realize that their judgment is impaired with slower reactions while driving, which requires rapid and critical decisions on a daily basis. A slower reaction time by itself may lead to fatal car accidents, placing the consumer and those around at increased risk. For these reasons, marijuana education needs to be provided to everyone. Visual advertisements need to be implemented as soon as possible and, lastly, every state needs to set a standard level of THC for drug tests to qualify as legal to safely drive away or illegal and detained. In order to implement safety regulations that are logical and create legal standardizations when it comes to driving and marijuana use, various resources from multiple angles must be utilized effectively towards a common goal in minimizing marijuana-related DUIs.



Annotated Bibliography

Anthony Fauci, Dan Longo, Dennis Kasper, Joseph Loscalzo, Larry Jameson, and Stephen Hauser. “Marijuana and Cannabis Compounds.” Cocaine and Other Commonly Abused Drugs, pp. 469e2-469e3, Ed # 19, 469e, Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine.

This section of Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine discusses Marijuana and Cannabis compound, its effects, and levels with associated biological effects on the human body. It goes into great detail about what can happen to the human body if misused. I will reference the side effects of marijuana and cannabis and what happens to the body once it is consumed in my essay. Since Harrison’s principle of Internal Medicine is a textbook, this would be a great source to use it.

Barry K. Logan, I-Jen P. Castle, Megan E. Slater, Ralph W. Hingson. “Differences in State drug testing and reporting by driver type in U.S.  Fatal Traffic Crashed.” Accident Analysis and Prevention, Vol. 92, July 2016, pp. 122-129,

This article goes into detail about how the individual is tested for driving under the influence of drugs. The Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) is the system law enforcement is using to keep track of fatal crashes in the United States. The article also explains how each crash is categorized by the driver who dies at the scene, drivers who die en route to a hospital, and drivers who were transported and survived and drivers who were not transported to the hospital and survived. I will use the static of how the law enforcement determines to arrest driver under the influence. The chart also helps me understand better of how the FARS works. This is a reliable source because it is the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health article.

“Marijuana.”  What are marijuana Effects? National Institute on Drug Abuse. May 2018.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) goes into detail about marijuana, and how it affects students and after school/work and social life. A study shows that heavy marijuana user does not do so well after graduating and is earning less than $30,000 per year. NIDA did not just research on the effect of the body and mental health, they also research on how it is affecting driving after consumption of marijuana. Marijuana also impairs short-term memory and judgment. I am using the detail of what happens when consuming marijuana and the detail of what the effects are. There are many other facts that I will use in my essay. This is a reliable source because it is a government site and it is based on the NIDA web cited.

“Preventing Drug Abuse: The Best Strategy.” Drugs, Brains, and Behaviors: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse. July 2014.

I chose this article because it talks about drug education at a young age to prevent drug addiction in the future. The teenager age group have the highest rate of drug abuse. If we introduce drugs education at a young age, most likely it reduces the risk of the individual to become addicted to drugs as an adult. The drug abuse is part of the government site so it creditability. This article helps support my essay.

Suneil Agrawal and Anisha R. Turner. “Toxicity, Marijuana.” NCBI. April, 2017.

This article goes into explaining what marijuana is and the history of it. The article also discussed who uses marijuana and the number of doses uses that can affect you. The article also includes the treatment of cannabis intoxication. The article included the amount of THC that is safe to drive and the amount of THC that start to affect the impaired judgment such the lower limits range from 20 to 100 ng/mL (Nanograms per milliliter) and great than 100 ng/mL would be dangerous and at extremely high values would be toxic.

Tia Ghose. “Does Driving High on Marijuana Increase Fatal Crashes?” Live Science.  May 2016.

This article goes into detail about how the level of THC is really affecting the drivers, causing an increase in crashes. American Automobile Association (AAA) takes part in looking at crash data after marijuana was legalized. The AAA team found that before marijuana was legalized, 8.3 percent of drivers that were involved in fatal crashes had THC in their blood; and after it was legalized, 17 percent of drivers have THC in their blood. The AAA team is trying to understand how impaired judgment is related while driving and what rules need to apply for driving under the influence of drugs. The article is not saying that marijuana is making the road safety worse, just that police are testing for THC more often than before.  I will use the data of fatal crash as evident in my essay to help my reader understand the problem. The article was published in Live Science article so it must rely on.

“What Happens Inside the Human Body When Marijuana Is Consumed?”, June 2008

This Article discusses what marijuana does to the body once it is consumed, which goes into detail of affecting the cells and how the body reacts. Marijuana can stay in the human body for a week to a month, depending on how heavy of a marijuana consumer intake.

Wikipedia. “Timeline of cannabis laws in the United States.”

The Wikipedia gives me a timeline of when marijuana was introduced to the United States. California was the first state in 1996 to legalize medical marijuana before it spread to other states. In 2016, California was one of the 29 states that legalized recreational marijuana.