Driving and Medical Marijuana
Recently, our team at Green Health Docs was asked to discuss medical marijuana with Fox 4 in Kansas City. The resulting news piece focused largely on warning about the dangers associated with drunk and drugged driving. The report also sported some wildly inaccurate claims about what it’s like to use marijuana.
The Green Health Docs Advocacy Team dissects these claims and outline products that may be safer than others. We also sit down with Dr. Kathy Trumbull in Kansas City to clear the air about medicating with medical marijuana, and how it is uniquely different from getting “high” off a recreational marijuana.
A Word of Warning
While driving under the influence of cannabis is certainly possible, it is not recommended by Green Health Docs. Several states have laws in place that ban driving under the influence of marijuana. And you don’t have to be “drunk“ in order to get pulled over and cited for driving under the influence of marijuana. Missouri is one of these states.
Please exhibit caution when getting behind a motor vehicle while under the influence of medical cannabis. It is important that every patient know their limits and act responsibly. It can be unsafe to get behind a wheel for many marijuana users, so please…exhibit caution.
Green Health’s own Dr. Kathy Trumbull offered her tremendous insight on the subject. “Patients should be extremely cautious,” she explains. “The goal is to make a patient feel better but never to really reach a ‘high.’ I warn my patients that they could find that they get very sleepy or have an uncomfortable rise in anxiety, or even a panic attack when dosing. This is their body telling them they’ve gone past the correct dosage. But certainly panic attacks while driving are no good. And if a patient did somehow end up using marijuana with enough THC in it that they did become high, a patient really shouldn’t be driving.”
Cannabis Products To Avoid While Driving
If there is any impairment with cannabis, it is generally related to THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. THC is one of the many chemical compounds that make up the cannabis plant. This compound creates a slight euphoric experience in the user. In heavy doses, like dabbing THC oil for example, the euphoric experience can be very intense. This results in a physical response that could easily skew reaction times of the user’s motor reflexes.
“THC can lead to a ‘high’ with the other components not having that effect,” Dr. Trumbull stated. “I explain to a patient that it is usually a matter of too much THC taken in (for that person) that leads to anxiety and panic, but that there is no permanent damage you just need to step down on your dose. I explain that it is usually too much CBD that will lead to falling asleep unexpectedly.”
High THC products to avoid before driving:
1. Waxes for dabbing
2. Oil or Active Resin
3. Edibles over 5-10mg
4. THC-focused dry bud flower
Using these products in the comfort of your own home, with the guidance of a licensed physician, is perfectly safe. Many patients require high THC in order to treat their medical conditions. Patients with PTSD, cancer or chronic pain may require higher amounts of THC in order to treat their condition effectively. Keep this in mind when trying cannabis.
Cannabis Products You Can Use While Driving
There are several cannabis products that are perfectly safe to drive while under the influence of. CBD tinctures, for example, are low in THC and will not create the euphoric experience associated with that chemical compound. In fact, CBD that is sold in stores (including our Green Health clinics in Missouri) is often derived from hemp sources, and contain no THC.
The cannabis industry has a variety of CBD-focused products available, including:
1. CBD tinctures
2. Transdermal patches
3. Topical oils or creams
4. Edibles under 5-10mg
Experiences can vary between patients. Use caution when testing the waters to see what works for you. Try a cannabis product at home first and see how you feel. Generally, products that are high in CBD have little effect on motor skills. But each person is different, so be careful!
Drug Impairment Googles
Many have asked us about the veracity of claims about drug impairment goggles, like the ones used in the Fox 4 Kansas City news piece. Do these goggles actually simulate the effects of being stoned, or are they yet another scare tactic used by law enforcement?
While some THC products can certainly delay motor skills, there’s very little visual impairment. And most patients looking to get a Missouri medical marijuana card are not interested in getting drunk off their marijuana.
“Every patient so far has wholeheartedly agreed that they want to use marijuana safely, and I don’t really get the feeling that they are lying to me,” Dr. Trumbull noted. “Some have even told me that they didn’t want to smoke it or get high from it like they used to. They just want the positive effects, like feeling more calm or less pain.”
Our Green Health team also asked a medical marijuana patient what they thought about driving under the influence. “There’s a big difference between being drunk and being stoned,” the patient reported. “I have been about as stoned as a person can possibly get, and even at my most stoned I felt more in control that I ever have while drunk. Cough medicine even makes me feel more impaired than weed.”
While there is undoubtedly some level of impairment from using medical marijuana, the claims the makers of the drug goggles make about their accuracy are wildly dubious, at best.
Ask Your Doctor About Drugged Driving
Never be afraid to ask your doctor a question about your medicine. Your health and well-being is their top priority. The doctors are Green Health Docs can answer any questions you have, and help you get your Missouri medical marijuana evaluation, either at one of our Missouri clinics, or through Missouri telemedicine. Call us today at 1-877-242-0362 and our support team will get you on your way.