In order to capitalize on the well-documented rise in e-cigarette use and vaping, manufacturers have started to market "synthetic marijuana" that can be legally purchased without a prescription. These products are synthetic chemical mixtures that resemble the compounds found in the marijuana plant. However, experts agree that these chemical mixtures can have a much stronger effect than the plant-based variant.
That means if you use synthetic marijuana before operating a motor vehicle, you're absolutely at risk for a DUI arrest. In order to understand just how this chemical can lead to prison terms and hefty fines, you need to understand how synthetic marijuana can impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle.
What Is The Impact of Synthetic Marijuana On Driving?
In popular culture, marijuana smokers are often portrayed as hilariously mellow and laid back. You'll almost never see a pot smoker in a television show or movie that looks as if they cannot perform basic life functions. As a result, driving after smoking pot is often seen as less serious than drunk driving. This is an unfortunate mistake. Natural marijuana use can lead to reduced reaction times and and lowered attention while driving—making for a fatal combination.
With synthetic marijuana, the risks are even higher. The side effects from using the chemical include:
- Psychotic episodes
- Loss of control
Don't let the fact that synthetic marijuana or similar products are often sold at specialty shops fool you—if you are under the effects of it, your ability to operate a motor vehicle is seriously hindered. You will place your loved ones at risk if you try to drive.
How Long Should Users Wait?
When you're at a party, it's pretty easy to have a handle on when you've had too much to drink. Of course, it's always best to abstain from drinking entirely if you're going to drive yourself or your loved ones home. That said, if you typically enjoy a glass of red wine with dinner, you've probably learned what your body's response to alcohol is—and you've probably developed ways to know when it's time to pass the keys to a sober friend or family member.
With natural marijuana, the situation becomes complex. Not everyone has the same response to the active chemicals in marijuana, which means you might not know what effect it'll have on you. Making matters worse, the effects can last anywhere from 5 to 24 hours after ingestion. Being under the influence of a substance for that long of a time makes it difficult to judge when you're capable of driving.
Synthetic marijuana, due to the vast number of different chemical formulas and products, is even more variable. You could have a very controlled response to ingestion on one occasion, only to have a dramatically different response with a different product. That means if you're in the habit of using synthetic marijuana, you shouldn't go anywhere near the driver's seat until any and all effects have passed--which could take a day or more.
What Is The Legal Precedent?
The courts are aware of these issues, and have applied DUI laws accordingly. Judges have upheld the guilty verdicts in synthetic marijuana trials at the appeals court level. Essentially, if you're found driving erratically and have used synthetic marijuana recently, you'll find yourself dealing with the same legal response that you would if you were drinking alcohol to excess—including serious fines and the possibility of extended jail time.
If you're a user of synthetic marijuana, please be responsible and avoid driving a car or truck while under the influence. If you've been accused of DUI after smoking the chemical, be sure to get in touch with an attorney through a web site like http://www.hartlawofficespc.net soon. The dynamic nature of this quickly changing chemical product makes the legal landscape difficult to navigate.