OUR VIEWS: Marijuana and driving don’t mix

May 23, 2012

Recently, a three-judge panel on the state of appeals court sided with a Traverse City prosecutor regarding a criminal case against Rodney Koon, a medical marijuana user who was stopped in 2010 for exceeding the speed limit by nearly 30 mph. Koon admitted he had smoked marijuana six hours earlier, and a blood test revealed the drug in his body.

More than 130,000 people possess state-issued cards allowing them to use medical marijuana to alleviate pain and symptoms of chronic illness, so the use of marijuana by those individuals is not a crime. But to use the drug — which can impair one's ability to operate a vehicle — then get behind the wheel, can be.

This only makes sense.

Prescription drugs such as oxycodone and alprazolam, commonly known as Xanax, have been playing a much larger role in traffic crashes during recent years. The state of Florida, for example, recorded an 18 percent increase in crashes related to those two drugs alone in 2011. And those are only two of many prescription drugs that have labels alerting users of the dangers of operating machinery or a vehicle while taking the medication.

The issue is no longer if pot should be a medical prescription; it's about the responsibility in regards to the affect of that drug. Under our state’s “zero tolerance” law, even medical marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 substance when it impairs one's driving.

According to the law, driving under the influence of certain drugs — even legal drugs — is illegal.

The state court of appeals stated medical marjiuana “does not permit all types of medical use of marijuana under all circumstances.” Such as operating a motor vehicle.

“There are people who believe that the medical marijuana law allows them to medicate and then drive.”

It's not OK, Auburn Hills Police Chief Doreen Olko told the Associated Press last year. In 2005, Olko's department was the first statewide to staff a drug recognition expert looking into the problem of prescription drugs and driving.

We applaud the state court of appeals for its common-sense ruling. When the objective is to create a safer environment on our roads, we all benefit. This ruling provides protection for both the driver as well as others who travel our Michigan roads.
 

Comments

ohwell

Should carry the same penalty as driving drunk. Just wait until one of these people with "medical" use kills someone while driving after they "medicated" themselves. I call BS on the whole medical marijuana anyway. There are plenty of other drugs that can be prescribed instead. Are they any better while driving? No. But just cause someone has a hangnail, they think they need to smoke marijuana.

firestorm2004

At least pot is ALL NATURAL

Skeptic Trucker

So is arsenic, what's your point???

your mother

you really should do some real research before making yourself sound like an idiot. for one thing you can not get a medical marijuana card with an excuse like a "hangnail" or anything minor like that. watch some documentaries about medical marijuana. there are plenty of people that had serious medical conditions and were in constant pain that had the same views as you and had never tried marijuana but when they tried it it changed their whole perspective. my uncle is paralyzed and he has severe leg spasms and marijuana is the only thing that effectively takes care of that. but i guess some people are just brainwashed by the media into thinking marijuana is the devil and hardcore highly addictive prescription painkillers are just fine. Oh Well!

ohwell

And being natural has what to do with the fact that people get high and get behind the wheel?

lakeshore12

Ohwell you sound so ignorant... Firestorm was replying to your rant about medical marijuana being bs. Yes other drugs can be prescribed in some cases but they are less effective and have terrible side effects.

ohwell

Ignorant????? I am sorry, marijuana doesn't have side effects. Since when? Yes any drug has side effects. Alcohol has side effects you drink enough, long enough, just has cigarettes do. Medical marijuana is BS because the fact that people are using lame medical excuses to get it prescribed. the fact that it is natural has nothing to do with it. Tobacco, alcohol are natural also, yet they cause disease when abused long enough. Oh wait, then you can go to the doctor and get your medical marijuana to ease the pain. So yes again, it is BS. You want to rot your brian by smoking marijauna, have at it. Just don't think you are going to get any sympathy when get pulled over for driving while high. Or when you die from smoking it, you got what you deserve.

lakeshore12

You really think tobacco and alcohol are natural? I don't know what planet you are on but tobacco has 599 different ingredients added to it... Hear is something to think about tobacco causes more than 5 million deaths worldwide per year. Alcohol causes roughly 100,000 deaths per year. Cannabis 0 deaths per year!

ohwell

You really think that marijuana is pure and natural? That along with all drugs are cut with something that is not natural. And 0 deaths from marijuana??? Really?? I would bet money that is not true one bit. I would bet there are plenty of deaths from marijuana each year. And it will kill you if you are on it long enough. Just talk to anyone that has smoked for years on end, and tell me it hasn't "killed" them in some way. Obviously you are a proponent of marijuana. I wouldn't mind legalizing it for any moron who wants to smoke it. However, I would put a heavy tax on it and regulate it heavily. The problem is with the so called medical marijauna that people are making up any excuse to be able to smoke it. Again, total BS. And this whole article was started because of driving under the influence. Some say that smoking pot is no different than drinking alcohol. If that is the case, then you should suffer the same consequences for driving while high. Better yet, if you think you need to have medical marijauna for your hang nail, cause you are in so much pain. Then you get your drivers license revoked as soon as the prescription is written. Yes there are other prescribed narcotics that people are on. Most aren't on them for life though. This medical marijauna excuse is just an excuse for someone to get high "legally". And if you are on any kind of state or federal aid, then you lose that if think you need medical marijauna and pay for it our of pocket. There is a reason it is an illegal drug. And I don't want to pay for someone to get high, since they stubbed their toe at work and can't handle the pain. Suck it up and take a ibuprofen or aspirin.

lakeshore12

It is unfortunate to read such a long rant of false information. I wish you could see all the people that benefit from the use of medical marijuana.

ohwell

When you can post factual information, instead of your pro-marijuana agenda, maybe I will listen. Until then keep smoking your happy grass. Benefits, right. Just like a drunk that stumbles out of the bar every night. False information??? You haven't posted anything factual yet.

lakeshore12

Did you not read my previous post? What I stated is pure facts use google to confirm for yourself. Your the one who has not posted one fact, just your opinion... You should really take a good look in the mirror and stop being so close minded. Also most medical marijuana patients do not smoke there medicine they eat/ingest it by mixing it with food. Also your comment about stumbling is another stereotype because most medical marijuana contains a low % of thc(the part of marijuana that gets you high) and contains high amounts of cbd(the part of marijuana that helps with pain and does not get you high).

ohwell

Well since you read it on the internet, it has to be true. Again the point of the article is about driving while high. It should be illegal and be handled the same way as drunk driving. Driving under the influence is illegal, no matter what substance you have in your body. Look that up on the internet, and you will find out that also.

lakeshore12

Yes it is common sense to not medicate and immediately get behind the wheel... But the person mentioned in this article had not medicated in 6 hrs, which is more than enough time to not effect his driving.

GH Cyclist

Why are you so anti-marijuana and pro-pharmaceutics? Do you know the reasons why marijuana is illegal in the United States? I'm just wondering.

ohwell

Because I follow the law, and marijuana is illegal....nuff said there. As for why it is illegal, there were laws passed a long time ago outlawing it.

GH Cyclist

What were the reasons for the law being past though? I want to understand why marijuana isn't legal.

ohwell

I really don't care why it was outlawed. All I know is that it is illegal, and I follow the rules/laws. Do your own research to find out why.

43°North

I don't like to get off subject and get personal, but this guy Oh Well has just defined himself as a 'sheep' better known as a follower...baaa, I follow blindly, baaa, I don't care why, baaa, I know what I know, what I know is true, baaa. Actually OW, in the eyes of 17 states...medical marihuana is LEGAL. The states have sovereignty. Do you know what that means? It means the people of that state can pass the laws they deem acceptable. Which we did in Michigan almost 4 years ago, were you asleep then? Were you campaigning against the law? Probably not. Quote facts and don't sound so plain stupid.

MeanSmith

As a community we need to get these kids off the dope!! This problem is going to take us all down like the Titanic!! Lets crack down people!!

lakeshore12

No as a community we need to focus on real issues such as alcohol and prescription pill abuse.

AtomicRooster

Try to tell me that alcohol is NOT a drug and you are going to get an argument with me every time. It is the MOST abused drug on the planet but yet it remains legal. It should of stayed in prohibition. Every year the statistics soar ever higher with alcohol related traffic deaths vs. any other drug. Alcohol also promotes violence and people lose control while they are under the influence of alcohol. You want to find STUPID? Just add alcohol.

AtomicRooster

Ohwell listening to you just now is the same as talking to sock puppet and you have the cranial capacity that of the common caged canary. When God was passing out brains you thought he said trains and said NO THANK YOU.

43°North

The problem could be that THC stays detectable in the body for up to 14 days. So they might test you days after medicating and still find it in your system. Not being under the effects of the THC anymore, could you still be driving illegally if testing positive? Probably. In Cannabis, CBD is the drug sought after for chronic pain. Meds with higher amounts of CBD have less THC content, but it is still there and detectable. So the trouble as I see it is the testing has not kept up with the laws enough to determine when a drug was taken and when it's effects are no longer a danger.

cskunk

It depends on what type of test they use. In this case they said a blood test, which like you said is pointless because he could have smoked 2 days prior for all they know. The Saliva-Strip test (as far as I understand) only goes back 8 hours, I've heard this test kit is carried by police in their trunks for exactly this reason. If all they used is a blood test on this guy, it seems like he could use that against them in court, but I'm not a lawyer.

cskunk

Responsible people do responsible things. There are responsible pot smokers, though not the majority, these people do the same thing responsible drinkers do.. they are careful not to smoke a lot if they know they have to drive somewhere, and let a certain amount of time pass before they get behind the wheel if they do smoke beforehand.

AtomicRooster

Anyone here visited a drug rehab clinic lately? You won't find one patient there trying to kick the marijuana habit. It's only mentally addicting and that is a very small percentage of that. You do not go through any kind of physical withdrawal from marijuana. Cigarettes are harder to kick the habit than marijuana and yet cigarettes and alcohol remain legal. There is something seriously wrong with that picture. This article SHOULD read that ALCOHOL and DRIVING don't mix.

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