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Is it Illegal to Drive On Cannabis?

Updated on February 17, 2015

Kill The Weed, Not A Child!!

There is a lot of awareness for drink driving. It is an issue that frequents the news, and we often see ad campaigns on TV showing the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Drink driving is a serious issue, and one that people should quite rightly be aware of. How different is drink driving to drug driving?

We rarely hear about the dangers of driving under the influence of an illegal substance, despite the fact that over 22% of drivers killed in RTC'S (Road Traffic Collisions) have illegal drugs in their blood stream, Cannabis being the main substance.

Firstly I would like to start by saying that Drug Driving is illegal. If a driver is found to be under the influence of cannabis, then they will receive either a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving, or even face a prison sentence.

Research shows that there is an increasing number of road traffic collisions where cannabis is found in the drivers body, and which possibly caused the crash. Most Cannabis users will say that cannabis is safer than alcohol, but unfortunately this is far from the truth.

Just like alcohol, cannabis causes concentration to wander, which will affect reaction times. It can also cause drowsiness, distorted perception, disorientation and paranoia. All these points can cause the user to lose control while driving.

A Little Bit about Drug Driving

Cannabis is a mind altering drug, meaning it changes how the brain works. Cannabis contains THC (The main active chemica in cannabis). It also contains over 400 other chemicals.

The effects of cannabis on the user depends on the strength and potency, which relates to how much THC the cannabis contains. Most cannabis contains on average 8% THC.

The THC in cannabis is quickly absorbed by fatty tissues in various organs. THC can be traced by standard urine tests, and traced in the blood for up to four weeks. Cannabis is the most common drug found in drivers, and drug driving is most common among 20 to 24 year olds.

In a survey by the Road Safety Campaign, a shocking 81% of clubbers had drove after taking drugs, with many of them believing that cannabis had little or no effect on their driving skills.

Perhaps more shocking, is that over 800,000 drivers travel under the influence of cannabis every year in the UK. Experts claim that smoking a cannabis joint has a similar effect on your driving as four pints of lager would.

In the majority of fatal road traffic collisions where cannabis is detected in the drivers body, alcohol is also detected. Cannabis or Alcohol alone can cause impairment but the two mixed together increases that impairment and can quite literally become deadly.

People generally believe that Alcohol is the most dangerous action on the road.

Research shows that the reactions of drivers under the influence of alcohol was 12% slower.

Drivers under the influence of Cannabis was 21% slower.

Drivers that were texting was a massive 35% slower.

Do you believe there should be more awareness for Drug driving?

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What are the Effects of Cannabis?

1. Increased heart rate and high blood pressure

2. Distorted perception (sight, time, touch, sound)

3. Loss of coordination

4. Trouble with thinking and problem solving

5. Lack of concentration

6. Problems with memory and learning

7. Paranoia and suspicion

8. Anxiety and panic attacks

9. Extreme thirst and hunger

10. Cannabis contains nasty chemicals, which can cause Lung Disease and make Asthma worse

11. Frequent use of Cannabis can lower a mans sperm count

12. Smoking Cannabis can cause you to feel tired all the time and lack motivation

How Does Cannabis Effect Driving?

  • Lack of concentration causes the driver to miss things that they wouldn't normally such as the car in front slowing down or stopping, a car indicating to pull out, traffic lights, a child crossing the road etc.
  • The user is less aware of the road environment and has difficulty staying attentive.
  • The users coordination is affected.
  • The user has difficulty driving at a steady speed and judging distances.
  • The user has difficulty maintaining a straight trajectory.
  • The user has a longer reaction time and slower reflexes.

What Do The Studies into Drug Driving Tell Us?

In a study by the Transport Research Lab, people who drove a car at 66 miles per hour had a stopping distance of around 270ft. However after smoking a cannabis joint this increased on average by 15% to 310ft.

In a Slalom test those who had just smoked a cannabis joint knocked over 30% more cones.

In another study, researchers found that of 150 reckless drivers who were tested for drugs at the arrest scene, 33% tested positive for cannabis and 12% tested positive for both cannabis and another substance.

Research data has shown that after smoking cannabis, users show the same lack of coordination on standard 'drunk driver tests' as people who have had to much to drink.

In the 25 and under age group, one in five men have already driven under the influence of cannabis.

It is hard to determine exactly how cannabis will effect the users driving because it varies according to the individual, how much they have taken, the length of time that the drug has been in their body, and whether or not the cannabis was mixed with another drug or alcohol.

If you choose to drive under the influence of Cannabis, then you are knowingly risking the lives of everyone else on the road.

A responsible driver always ensures their own safety, as well as that of their passengers and others on the road.

If you have just smoked Cannabis, then you should get a taxi or a bus or even ask a friend for a lift. NEVER drive yourself.

Drug driving is not only illegal but it can lead to DEATH. Still not convinced? Watch the video below........

Take The Quiz

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New Drug Driving Laws March 2015

It is illegal to drive after drinking or taking drugs. If the police feel that someone is under the influence, they can stop them and carry out a 'Field Impairment Assessment' which are tests that determine their capability to drive.

If found unfit to drive they will be taken down the station for a blood test. If the test proves positive then they could find yourself being charged for drug driving.

The drug drive law is changing from the 2nd March this year to make it easier for Police officers to detect drug drivers and to prosecute them. It will be an offence to be over a certain limit in the same way it is for alcohol. One smoke of cannabis will now put you over the driving limit.

If convicted you will get

  • A minimum 12 Month driving ban
  • A criminal record
  • A fine of up to £5,000 or up to 6 months in prison or both

As well as this you may also lose your job, notice your car insurance sky rockets when you do regain your licence and you could also have trouble getting into certain countries because of your record.


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    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Thank you Pav710 i am pleased you found it useful. There doesn't seem to be as much information and awareness on Drug Driving even though the consequences are the same as Drink driving, which was my main reason for writing this hub.

    • Pav710 profile image


      7 years ago

      Thanks for such an informative hub younger generation are not aware about the facts you mentioned...very useful information.

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Thank you Sharnas, i believe there should be just as much awareness for drug driving as drink driving after reading the statistics and studies regarding this matter.

    • sharnas profile image


      7 years ago from stay in Dubai . ( INDIAN- KERALA )

      Great hub! Socially committed topic. This is giving awareness about drug or drink driving. Thank you.

    • zoey24 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from South England

      Thank you for your support Cogerson, I agree nobody does seem to talk about it much even though it is such an important issue.

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Great hub.....drug driving is just as bad and deadly as drunk driving....and nobody seems to ever talk about how dangerous it is...great hub.. voted up and useful


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