Thanks to the recent legalization of medical marijuana, many Florida residents have finally found the relief they need for conditions like seizures, glaucoma, nausea, migraines, and more.
Unlike CBD, which is the extract of the non-psychoactive component of cannabis for medical use, medical marijuana is the whole, unprocessed marijuana plant used to treat symptoms of illness and disease. This means that medical marijuana does cause the psychoactive effects associated with the “high” of THC.
So is it legal to drive when using medical marijuana? Here is what you need to know before you get your first medical marijuana card from your doctor.
Driving When Using Medical Marijuana Is Illegal.
Just like it’s illegal to drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, it is illegal to drive while using medical marijuana. Many people who use medical marijuana assume it’s legal to drive while using since it’s a legal substance, but Florida and other states still consider it illegal to use this substance while driving.
They cite research that found a direct relationship between the concentration of THC in a person’s blood and impaired driving ability. It’s possible that marijuana causes slowed reaction times and other effects that could make driving more dangerous.
If you are pulled over and charged with driving under the influence of medical marijuana, you could receive a DUI and penalties ranging from fines to arrest.
How Is Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana Measured?
However, it’s still difficult for police to determine how much medical marijuana you have used at the time that you’re pulled over. There’s currently no breathalyzer for marijuana, though many companies are actively working on developing a THC breathalyzer.
Traditional field sobriety tests are also too unreliable to use for medical marijuana. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance-impairing effects.”
Some states use blood or urine tests to determine the level of THC impairment on a range from 1 to 5 nanograms, but Florida does not use this system. The state of Florida believes that the level of THC in the blood or urine can’t be directly correlated to driving impairment since marijuana remains in the body far longer than the impairment lasts.
If you’re pulled over and suspected of driving under the influence of marijuana, police may do one of the following:
- Require a breathalyzer and conclude marijuana use if you still seem impaired
- Use the smell of marijuana lingering in the car as cause for arrest
- Search the car for physical signs of marijuana
The Bottom Line
Florida has made great strides by achieving the legalization of medical marijuana for legitimate health needs, but that doesn’t change driving laws. Be sure to use medical marijuana safely and wisely to avoid trouble.