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Legal marijuana use doesn't mean you can drive while you're high

Some people tend to think of marijuana as a harmless drug without any negative side effects. With the changes in Massachusetts' laws regarding marijuana use, it is important to remember that even though you may be able to use the drug without legal repercussions, you aren't free from other laws surrounding it.

One legal issue you need to be concerned about is impaired driving. You can't drive while you aren't physically or cognitively able to handle it. Marijuana's effects can have a significant impact on users' abilities to operate their vehicles. Here are some important things to know about impaired driving.

Impaired driving: Prevalent substances

The drug most commonly associated with impaired driving is alcohol; marijuana is second. When it comes to how a driver is affected by these substances, it comes down to the manner and level of impairment on the person operating the motor vehicle. This means that, for a particular driver, marijuana can be just as deadly as alcohol or other substances.

Cannabis and your ability to drive

There are many ways in which cannabis use can affect your ability to drive safely. One primary way is to diminish reaction times to driving hazards. Marijuana also causes sleepiness in some users, which can make it very dangerous to drive while high.

For those who experience marijuana's hallucinogenic effects, seeing hazards that don't exist (or overlooking those that do) can lead to a crash. The effects of the drug may increase when other substances are used concurrently. For example, a person might be more impaired if they use marijuana and alcohol together.

Testing can be difficult

When a person uses marijuana, the drug remains in their system for days or even longer. However, the effects of the drug don't last this long. This means that a test for marijuana isn't going to accurately determine whether a person was actually impaired by the substance at the time of the traffic stop. This can provide an interesting element in a defense strategy if the person is charged with drugged driving.

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