Are more marijuana users driving high?

With so many complexities and loopholes associated with testing drivers under the influence of marijuana, are marijuana users less concerned about roadblocks and getting caught out by traffic officials?

With the legalisation of the private use of marijuana in South Africa came cause for celebration, along with a number of concerns. One such concern was the likelihood of an increase in intoxicated drivers and the dangers associated with driving high.

While alcohol limits are easier to test on a driver, determining how intoxicated a person under the influence of dagga is is far more complex.

Section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act states that‚ “No person may drive a vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle of which the engine is running on a public road while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug having narcotic effect”.

Included in a writeup by TimesLive, it was reported that the director at ALCO-Safe, Rhys Evans, said: “In theory‚ any person caught with even traces of marijuana in their system whilst driving can currently be arrested and/or prosecuted. But because it can remain in a person’s bloodstream for hours to days after use‚ a person who tests positive for marijuana isn’t necessarily intoxicated. At present‚ no limit has been established to determine how much THC needs to be present in the bloodstream for a person to be considered intoxicated‚” said Evans.

THC can be detected in blood tests‚ urine tests and saliva tests – the latter producing results within three to five minutes.

“It is likely that legalisation of marijuana will only increase the number of active users driving a vehicle while under the influence. Until regulations are in place‚ however‚ it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to prove actual intoxication and there will be little to stop these drivers from taking to our roads‚” said Evans.

With this in mind, are marijuana users less concerned about roadblocks and getting caught out by traffic officials? If that’s the case, we’d hope that they are more concerned with the dangers associated with driving high. Share your thoughts with us and send us a mail to womenonwheels@assocmedia.co.za