How To Know If You Are Too High To Drive


The best rule of thumb if you are unsure if it is safe to drive is… when in doubt, don’t drive.

It is that simple. The risks never outweigh the reward. Especially today with so many alternative options for transportation available to us.

But, if I am going to start using marijuana medically, I want to know how much is safe to take and what the signs are for being too high to drive.

With more states embracing marijuana each year, there are millions of people who will begin looking at marijuana in a new light. Slowly, the stigma created by close to 80 years of prohibition is starting to clear. There will be more open and optimistic views towards the miracle plant that George Washington considered to be the true cash crop of the United States.

If you are one of those curious “window shoppers”, eager to enjoy marijuana when it becomes legal, you are probably overwhelmed by the amount of information out there. It can be a lot to absorb, and you may be unsure what to believe and what not to believe. The below list is by no means a complete guide to follow as law. Its goal is to create a simplified list of self checks to help you make a more responsible decision if you are ever faced with the “to drive or not to drive” dilemma.


The Science:

First off, let’s briefly talk about the impact marijuana has on the brain. Did you know that your brain naturally produces cannabinoids called anandamide. These cannabinoids bind with cannabinoid receptors in the part of your brain that has to do with short-term memory, coordination, learning, and problem solving.

Just like anandamide, THC is also a cannabinoid, but in a much higher concentration than what your body naturally produces. When THC is ingested, it travels through your bloodstream to your brain in seconds and begins to bind with the cannabinoid receptors. When this happens it can have an adverse effect on your short term memory, cause decrease in coordination, involuntary muscle movements, and a “fogginess” in your brain when trying to solve problems.


Signs You Are High And Should Not Drive

  1. Your Vision Seems A Bit Off

As I previously stated, THC travels through your bloodstream to your brain in a matter of seconds. It is very common to begin noticing a slight change in your vision and perception within the first few minutes. You may notice that when you move your eyes, your vision reacts slower than normal, almost like the delay witnessed on televisions compared to the live sports. This is a very common effect of marijuana, and one that especially makes driving high dangerous due to your inability to quickly react to sudden changes in your surroundings.

Another common side effect on your vision is dilation of the pupils. This can make it difficult to focus on one thing for too long, makes the eyes more sensitive to bright lights, and can impact your perception.

2. Problem Solving Becomes A Real Challenge

You have either personally had, or heard about amazing “high conversations” that happen when marijuana is involved. This can be a source of great entertainment and deep conversations about topics like the meaning of life and outlandish government conspiracies. Unfortunately, far too often it also becomes difficult to convey your thoughts and carry a conversation.

Due to the blocked receptors in the brain, holding onto thoughts can become as difficult as holding onto a wet bar of soap in the shower; just when you think you have a solid grasp, it slips through your fingers.

For driving, this converts to struggling to stay focused on your surroundings, other cars, pedestrians, and traffic laws. If you feel in any way that you are having trouble focusing and processing thoughts, you will know you are still high and should not drive.

3. Your Limbs Feel Extra Relaxed and Possibly Heavy

If you have ever been really high, you know the struggle of moving when you are sitting or lying down. The sensation is a mix of feeling extremely relaxed, and feeling heavy and too weak to lift your limbs. This is a very obvious sign that you are severely high.

Of course, you don’t have to experience these side effects to this degree to still be high. When questioning if you are high, take mental note of just how relaxed you feel. If your posture is more slumped than normal, your eyelids feel extra heavy, and your limbs feel like they are full of helium, you are feeling the effects of THC on your brain.

This effect on your coordination and muscle relaxation also makes it difficult to stay alert and react quickly to the unpredictable roads. If you are feeling at all like described above, either wait it out, have a sober friend drive, or request an Uber to pick you up, because you are high and should not drive.

4. Paranoia Starts To Creep In

Now, another side effect of marijuana that is not always experienced, but especially likely when a lot of marijuana has been consumed, is slight to severe feelings of paranoia. The littlest things cause you concern, and you go from carefree and relaxed, to rigid and stressed at an unnatural level. This is the dark side of cannabis consumption, and one that has turned many people away from consuming marijuana ever again.

If you at all are feeling worried and paranoid as a result of consuming marijuana; breath, relax, and know that everything will be fine. In almost all paranoia situations, concerns that occur have no basis, and no real dangers. Secondly, please refrain from driving, because you are high. When your mind is paranoid, it is thinking about whatever concern is assaulting the brain, and as a result is not focusing on the road.


If you ever find yourself in a place where driving is not the smart answer, know that there are other options. You can wait it out, take public transportation, hail a taxi, order an Uber or Lyft, or even walk. With marijuana consumption becoming legal for more and more citizens in the United States, the fear of being high in public is vanishing, the fear of driving high is rising.

Remember the golden rule… when in doubt, don’t drive. The risks NEVER outweigh the possible reward.

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