Can Using Cannabis Cause Unforeseen Risks?

Cannabis continues to make headlines in more ways than one. Medical professionals across the country continuing to turn to cannabis as an alternative to traditional medications, thanks to laws that making medical marijuana legal in 32 states — in spite of it still being classified as a Schedule I drug. Some 10 states — and the District of Columbia — have gone even further and made it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess at least one ounce. While this trend has added another option for people who experienced side effects from their current pain medications and allowed others to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression without relying on traditional medications, it also raises some serious questions regarding the risks of such use.

Does Cannabis Pose Risks to Others?

There has been much press and praise regarding the effects of cannabis use on those who partake of it, but what about others? The federal government maintains that using cannabis can lead to abuse, in spite of many states’ enthusiastic embrace of the drug.

According to studies compiled by knowledgeable and respected national institutions, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is a reason to be concerned when people mix their use of cannabis with everyday activities such as driving. Data that NHTSA gathered found that 25 percent of the drivers who were tested had THC, the component that provides the euphoric feelings that cannabis is famous for, in their bloodstreams.

Cannabis is prized by users for the way it makes them feel. Relaxed and happy are two of the more common ways that using cannabis is described. This is pointed to by proponents of cannabis use as proof that the drug is safer than driving under the influence of alcohol.

This, of course, isn’t an absolute. Like alcohol, using cannabis affects people in differing ways. While some people claim the drug help hone their concentration skills, studies have indicated that this is a short-lived side effect. Drivers who have used cannabis often find it more difficult to stay focused, to read road signs as they approach and to maintain a relatively stable distance between other cars.

In spite of the promising effects that cannabis has on those who take it — especially when it comes to pain — its use imposes serious risks on other people in the form of impaired driving.