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Marijuana’s Impact on Driving Skills

cannabis plant, marijuana

Is Weed Legal in New York?

For years, countless people wondered, “When will weed be legal in New York?” The answer is “now.”

On March 31, 2021, New York became the 16th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adults age 21+. While this is exciting for many New Yorkers, there are limits. Under New York’s marijuana law, the following rules are effective immediately:

  • Individuals may lawfully possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis
  • Individuals may possess up to 5 pounds of cannabis in their residences
  • Individuals may possess up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • Individuals may grow 3 mature and 3 immature plants or have 6 mature and 6 immature plants per household

Possessing more than 3 ounces of cannabis is punishable by a $125 fine and possessing over 16 ounces of marijuana is a misdemeanor.

Don’t be fooled. The state’s efforts to decriminalize and legalize marijuana possession are significant, but as a result, police officers are heavily cracking down on drivers who seem impaired or “high.” The implications of New York’s marijuana laws are mostly positive, however, misusing marijuana could have legal consequences. This is because marijuana produces a variety of short and long-term effects, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which we summarize below:

Short-term effects

  • Altered senses (for example, seeing brighter colors)
  • Altered sense of time
  • Changes in mood
  • Impaired body movement
  • Difficulty with thinking and problem-solving
  • Impaired memory
  • Hallucinations (when taken in high doses)
  • Delusions (when taken in high doses)
  • Psychosis (risk is highest with regular use of high potency marijuana)

Long-term effects

  • Impaired thinking, memory, and learning functions
  • Impacts how the brain connects the areas needed to perform key functions
  • A decline in general knowledge and verbal ability (according to study)

Why Does This Matter?

As you can see from the lists above, you could experience the effects of marijuana on a daily basis even if you don’t use it regularly. For instance, if you regularly smoked weed for two months and took a 2-week break, the long-term effects could easily catch up to you. Marijuana stays in your system after the intoxicating effects wear off. As such, you must be mindful of your cannabis use if you drive.

If you took an edible the night before a long road trip, there’s a chance you could feel the short-term effects during your drive. You may feel groggy, clouded, and tired. You may not be as sharp as you would if you didn’t take the edible.

For this reason, your driving skills could suffer. Your perception, attention, coordination, and reaction time may become impaired. For example, you may misjudge your speed, fail to notice a stop sign, weave in and out of your lane, fail to maintain a safe distance, and more. All of these examples could result in a traffic ticket.

What about a DUI? Surely, you could easily get a DUI for driving while impaired on drugs. However, proving marijuana impairment in DUI cases is challenging. As mentioned above, weed stays in your system even after the “high” wears off, so if there’s no clear evidence that you were impaired WHILE driving, you could be let off the hook and avoid DUI charges.

Tangled in the Weeds? We Can Help You Out.

Even if you are a safe and cautious driver, marijuana could affect your driving skills long after you used it. You may not even realize it, either. If you ended up with a traffic ticket or DUI charge, know that we have your back. Give us a call at (212) 235-1525 to learn how we can help you move forward.

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