Everyone knows not to drink and drive, but what about smoking and driving?

As legislation changes surrounding cannabis, so do the laws around consumption. With cannabis clubs on the rise (businesses where you can purchase cannabis and enjoy it on the spot), the questions have to be asked: How much is too much cannabis before you get behind the wheel? And, how can you enjoy cannabis in public while also following the law and safely getting home?

How Long Does It Take for Cannabis to Clear Your System?

The fact about consuming cannabis is that it affects everyone differently. Where most of us may be familiar with the equivalents of one shot of alcohol = one beer = one glass of wine, the comparison gets a bit more hazy when it comes to the green. Part, if not most, of the reason for this is that cannabis is still considered a schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Because of this classification, science has not been able to extensively test the effects of different types of consumption and how long it takes for cannabis to exit your system under varying circumstances.

Whereas it’s simple math to figure out how fast your body metabolizes alcohol, cannabis presents a very different equation that varies beyond body weight and whether you ate a big greasy pizza along with your beers. Things that you may not even think of, like how fatty your meal was before consuming, or how often you typically consume cannabis (and how much in a typical sesh), can help contribute to what is found in your system during a cannabis DUI test. Of course, there is also the obvious: How long was it since you last consumed, and what was the THC content? Were you eating edibles, which take longer to feel the effects but may hit you harder, or did you smoke a joint and wait for the effects to wear off? Was the strain Sativa, Indica, or a Hybrid? Because cannabis has many different strains, many different ways to consume, and there is no clear-cut way to measure for cannabis toxicity at one given time, it is extremely difficult to determine exactly when cannabis will clear your system.

Cannabis DUI breathalyzers are being tested as we speak, but until we have more evidence to support what constitutes driving under the influence when it comes to cannabis, the general rule is just don’t do it. Some lawyers even advise to wait 12 hours after consuming cannabis before getting behind the wheel!

What Are the Penalties for Driving While High?

Many people feel that driving high is not the equivalent of driving drunk. The fact is, any kind of impaired driving, whether it’s from alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs, can get you in trouble with the law and put your safety at risk. As a general rule, even if you feel sober, if you have consumed cannabis within the past few hours, operating a motor vehicle of any kind is not smart. Besides the obvious reasons that you may unintentionally harm yourself or others, there is the very real possibility that you could be slapped with a DUI.

Whereas we had little guidance in the past, the laws are always changing in the cannabis world. The ease of accessibility, the quality, and the potency of cannabis has increased drastically over the last decade, which means the topic of smoking and driving should be brought to light, as well.

Cannabis consumption cannot be measured the way alcohol can during a field sobriety test, which can cause negative implications if you have a high tolerance, have only ingested a small amount, and for cannabis social clubs who are trying to run a business without getting their clients in trouble with the law.  Imagine if bars and restaurants had the same system: have one drink and you will test positive for driving while under the influence. Unfortunately, that is the climate in the cannabis world right now: Since there is no way to tell how long ago the drug was consumed, or how high a person is who consumed a short time ago, if you drive while after consuming, a DUI is a possibility.

The penalties for a DUI from cannabis are similar to those that result from alcohol. Colorado is an implied consent state, meaning that by driving on the state’s roads, you are ultimately consenting to sobriety tests is an officer suspects that you are impaired and they have probable cause.  If you refuse the field sobriety test, the State will suspend your license for 12 months, in addition to any criminal charges that may be brought against you. Criminal penalties may include fines, community service, and even jail time, and are treated the same as any other DUI.

Our Advice

High Tops Premium Cannabis Dispensary is on your side. As the premier dispensary in Colorado Springs, we take pride in having become the brand you know and trust. Our advice: Don’t consume and drive, ever.  The risk is too great, but luckily there are easy alternative available!

If you are going out on the town, use a strain and consumption method that you’re familiar with. If you haven’t had edibles in a while and know you have to drive, tonight is probably not your night to find out how they affect you. If you love a certain strain and want to switch it up, try that fire on a night when you’re safe and sound at home. The largest component of any fantastic cannabis experience is safety. Check out NORML’s Principles of Responsible Cannabis Use for more guidelines on responsible consumption.

One of the coolest things that has come about is the 320 Movement. They provided discounted Lyft rides in 2018 during the month of April in partnership with CDOT to help people plan to get home safely. We hope they’ll plan to launch a similar program this year!

As always, if you’re interested in learning more about how different cannabis products and what you can expect, ask our friendly budtenders next time you come see us!