(Semi-)legal marijuana and driving

Recreational pot is still illegal in this state so far a state I know, and I would suspect that even medical marijuana use would be subject to laws governing driving while impaired.

But now every time I drive on the main thoroughfare that goes through this area, at at least one of the major intersection I am bathed in a cloud of skunk. And half the time I can spot the car that it is coming from—the cabin completely bathed in smoke.

This is possibly my worst fear about marijuana normalization/legalization—people using it in cars.

WTF? Ever since I was a kid, we have been bathed in messages about impaired driving, whether alcohol or phone use.

And those things are legal. Marijuana isn’t really yet legal. What can be done about this? Is M.A.D.D. still around?

Driving under the influence remains illegal in all states in the US.

Under the laws of the United States, it is unlawful to drive a motor vehicle when the ability to do so is materially impaired by the consumption of alcohol or other drugs, including prescription medications.

So, what is being debated?

It’s not legal in the least, I’m not sure what gave you the impression that it was.
If it makes you feel any better, there’s likely a whole lot more drunk drivers out there than stoned drivers.

Driving under the influence laws cover this don’t they?

Nearly 7 years ago Colorado used some of that Pot Tax money to start a Don’t Smoke Pot and Drive’ Commercial campaign. I would image other states will follow this example.

Well, yes, my OP acknowledged that it is covered by current law. The question goes beyond that. Alcohol use and driving was also generally illegal for a long time, but enforcement, public service messages, and social pressure had to be majorly amped up to change behavior.

What steps can or should we take to encourage compliance with that law. Do we need a new promotional campaign specifically targeting marijuana use in cars, like we have for texting? Do we need a round of police crackdowns, with checkpoints and such? Should police departments be trained to focus on spotting and pulling over stanky cars? Should penalties be jacked up? Should liability issues be examined?

This should be nipped in the bud before it becomes a public health epidemic like drunken driving.

Kinda two issues here.

The first is that there is a legal limit to how much alcohol you can have in your system, and still be legally allowed to drive. This not only gives police a measure to use in enforcement, but also for drinkers to use for self policing their own behavior.

There is not a similar limit for cannabis product, so it is hard for a smoker to know what the safe limits actually are.

The second is that if it is illegal to smoke weed, it is hard to find a place to smoke it. This means that many end up smoking it in their car, as that is the only place they can find to indulge.

In Washington State, at least, they do have a campaign about driving while drunk or under the influence of marijuana (and prescription drugs) I don’t see a need for anything more than that. People shouldn’t do it, most people are not.

What evidence is there that suggests compliance with the law isn’t happening?


Open container laws prohibit use of alchohol at all in a car that is being operated on a public road. Do we need a similar law for marijuana?

So, how does this affect the consideration of what to do about marijuana use in cars? Are you suggesting this means we should be lenient towards it?

I think the second answers the first XD

The laws exist, though they vary in wording state to state.

In Pennsylvania:

Consumption of Medical Marijuana

Only homes and private residences are allowable locations for the consumption of medical cannabis . It does not matter how you take the medicine, this is the only place it is permitted without special permission.

In college we used to smoke weed in cars because there was nowhere else to do it. If we could have just walked outside and smoked a joint with all the people smoking cigarettes, we’d wouldn’t have wanted/needed to get off campus to do it (FWIW, our campus cops were actual county sheriff’s deputies, not a private firm. Getting in trouble meant finding friends to post bail).

It’s certainly not going to stop all of it. But the people that were getting high while driving to avoid getting caught (by the police, anyway) won’t have to worry about that anymore.
For example, imagine someone that lives in an apartment can now just go outside and not worry about the neighbors calling the police when they smell weed in the hallway.

I do believe that there already is.

Well, since it is illegal in your state in any case, then there is no leniency at all. I’m not sure why you think that I am suggesting anything at all.

My point is to explain why people may be smoking in their cars. Legalizing cannabis so that they have a legal place to smoke it may mean that people no longer have any reason to smoke in their car.

Maybe it’s just the way I’m reading these, but they come off as vague threats. I don’t think much of anyone will oppose rules against driving while stoned. In fact, I think most of us that are hoping for legalization both expect and welcome these types of laws.

I think the only one we worry about is that, at least last time I checked, there was only a metabolite test for THC. IOW, they can’t tell if you’ve consumed marijuana, but not if it was an hour ago or a week ago. The concern is that someone that’s 100% sober can get a DUI because they smoked weed a few days ago.

Or, alternatively, there’s no test to see if you’re currently stoned (as opposed to breathalyzer tests), so someone who is stoned while driving may get to drive away.

I think field sobriety tests would cover that. A lot of people, while stoned aren’t going to be able to walk a straight line or watch the pen go back and forth without their eyes going all wonky.

Hopefully. I’ve never been pulled over for DWI, so I don’t know how it all goes down. The nice thing about a breathalyzer is that it’s objective.

And yet there are no roadside tests for blood levels of alprazolam (xanax), morphine, oxycodone, diphenhydramine, etc. all of which can affect ability to operate a motor vehicle.

I don’t know about weed but those tests are mostly worthless around alcohol. When I was in college a bunch of us were recruited to go get drunk at the local police academy and then spend the afternoon taking sobriety tests. Most of us were pretty hardcore drinkers (why else go to the cops for free beer) but very few of us failed any tests before we were blowing over a 0.1 and I personally got to a 0.16 before I failed my first test. I would guess that hardcore stoners would be similar and need to be very stoned before impairment showed up.