Study: Smoking Medical Marijuana in Los Angeles Leads to Crashes

The Los Angeles Times recently reported a new study found that smoking pot and driving makes a person twice as likely to get into a vehicle accident.

And while some accidents or even arrests for DUI in Los Angeles are tied to smoking marijuana, law enforcement often has a hard time properly determining whether a person is under the influence of drugs while driving. A medical marijuana DUI should be scrutinized for many reasons.
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For one, as Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers have successfully pointed out in the past, marijuana can stay in a person’s system for weeks or months, depending on many factors, including the amount that was smoked, the person’s age, body type and other things.

There are other reasons as well that these charges should be viewed with skepticism. Law enforcement officers are woefully under-trained to determine if a person has been driving under the influence of drugs. While officers are abundantly trained to figure out if a driver has been drinking alcohol, drugs don’t always have the same effect on people. One person may react differently to drugs than another.

The major problem in California is that medical marijuana is legal for users who have prescriptions and are legally allowed to use it. So, where does taking your medicine and driving your vehicle cross the line into illegal activity? These are questions that must be raised.

Someone charged with driving under the influence of medical marijuana should fight the charge vigorously. DUI laws are strict in California and can lead to major penalties, including jail time, fines and fees, a driver’s license suspension and other obligations.

According to the news article, a recent Canadian study found that previous research on the topic have returned mixed results. Some scientists found that marijuana use was responsible for more crashes, while others found it actually created a lower risk for vehicle accidents.

The study looked at nearly 50,000 drivers who had been treated for injuries following a vehicle accident or who had been involved in a crash that was fatal. The crashes involved at least one moving vehicle on public roads. According to blood testing or self-reporting, evidence of marijuana was found in some of the cases.

The researchers grouped results from nine studies, finding that the risk of driving under the influence of accident while using marijuana was almost twice as much as those who had no substances in their system. The risk was increased when drivers used marijuana hours before the crash. Other studies found the risk of having a collision while under the influence of marijuana was actually lower than that of a sober driver.

Mostly, studies like this just serve to confuse people and put out misinformation about the truth. The bottom line is that there has been no conclusion about how risky it is to drive after smoking marijuana. The bigger issue is that people who are prescribed medical marijuana shouldn’t be punished simply for trying to cure their pain. Just because marijuana may be more controversial than narcotic pain pills, patients shouldn’t be treated differently.

The CANNABIS LAW GROUP offers experienced and aggressive representation to the medical marijuana industry in Los Angeles, throughout Orange County and elsewhere throughout Southern California. Call 714-937-2050 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Medical Marijuana DUI in Orange County May Be Overblown, Call a Lawyer Immediately: February 1, 2012
Additional Resources:

Smoking pot a few hours before driving may almost double crash risk, by Jeannine Stein, Los Angeles Times