Amendment 2 legalized marijuana, not driving while high

Amendment 2, or the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, legalized medical marijuana in certain instances and under strict criteria.

Lawmakers are still working out the regulations of the new law, trying to ensure that Amendment 2 does not open a “free -for-all” mentality. Although they still have work to do, one thing is certain: More people will have access to marijuana.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, after alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers who are involved in a crash. In Florida, marijuana is the most common illegal substance detected after an accident.

Researchers need more data to fully understand the role that marijuana plays in a crash, but they have shown that marijuana slows reaction time, impairs judgment and decreases coordination.

Driving under the influence of marijuana in Florida

Although medical marijuana is legal in Florida, driving under the influence of marijuana is not. The rules are much similar to those of driving under the influence of alcohol, but measuring marijuana use in drivers is much more difficult.

Alcohol is water-soluble and does not store in your fat cells. The main chemical in marijuana, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, metabolizes much differently than alcohol. Blood and urine tests have detected cannabinoids up to two weeks in a casual user of marijuana. In chronic users, the figure is four weeks. In a criminal or personal injury case, it is easy for parties to debate whether the driver was impaired at the time.

Drivers who use medical marijuana should be cautious about driving when impaired by the use of the drug, just as they would when using a prescribed medication that causes impairment.

Have you been injured in an accident?

Drivers who are under the influence of marijuana can cause accidents, even if they are using the drug as prescribed by a doctor. These drivers should not get behind the wheel.

If they do, and injure you or a loved one, you should know your legal rights and responsibilities when it comes to compensation for your damages. Even though the driver may face criminal charges, you may still be able to sue in civil court. A lawyer may be able to help you through it.