Ask a Trooper: A number of facts regarding marijuana

Question:  What are the real facts on marijuana, and can you be arrested for driving after smoking it?  How bad is it really? I know some people want to legalize it to tax it and for medicinal purposes.

Answer:  Yes, you can be arrested for impaired driving. Minnesota has already been taxing marijuana since around 1980 (and so we do not have to legalize it to tax it).  As far as the medicinal purposes go, we have already had it for several years in Minnesota, although in pill form.  Also, there are several other already-legal existing drugs that are reported to have the same (or close to the same) affect as smoking the weed, probably making the legalization of it for that reason unnecessary.
There is much information available in reference to the actual physical harm to the human body and to society as a whole, from smoking marijuana.  Marijuana produces a carefree state of mind and the illusion that senses are extra sharp. In reality, you are more likely to be preoccupied with unusual thoughts or visions than your responsibilities as a driver. Relaxed inhibitions alter your sense of time and space, making it difficult to make quick decisions and judge distances and speed. Marijuana use causes slow, disconnected thoughts, poor memory and paranoia. Even hours after the effect seems to be gone, your ability to make driving decisions will still be impaired.
One of the last reports that came out showed that at least 17 percent of persons in addiction treatment are there because of the use of marijuana.  It largely has a lot of the same hazardous chemicals that (legal) cigarettes do, and would continue to have those damaging effects even if made legal!  Some of the health effects of smoking marijuana are known to include: exposure to known carcinogens (marijuana smoke contains up to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than tobacco smoke!); impaired ability to create new memories; episodes of acute psychosis (from large ingested doses), which can include “hallucinations and a loss of personal identity”; and increased risk of chronic cough and bronchitis.  New studies show much worse results for marijuana users.
Marijuana is known accurately as a gateway drug.  According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more teens were in treatment for marijuana than for all other illicit drugs combined in 2006. Fact: According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in 2007, in some localities approximately 4 – 14 percent of drivers injured or killed in crashes tested positive for marijuana use.  More results from their studies show that at least 9 percent of all marijuana users will become addicted; 17 percent of all marijuana users who start using in their teens will become addicted and between 25-50 percent of daily marijuana users become addicted!
Other effects are known to include: lower work productivity and earning power, persons functioning at a reduced intellectual level all or most of the time, extra sick days from work; respiratory illnesses, lower grade point averages, lower yearly earnings, lower levels of educational attainment, poor school attendance, negative attitude toward school, absences, tardiness for school and wok, accidents, workers compensation claims, job turnover.  In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association examining a certain group of workers showed that the marijuana users (compared to non-marijuana users in that vocation) had 55 percent more industrial accidents, 85 percent more injuries and 75 percent increase in absenteeism!
All figures were received from a marijuana fact sheet put out by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) of Washington D.C. in January of 2012. They also cite numerous other sources for their publication.  A lot more information is available if you look for it. Just a few weeks ago, I saw in the news that a long term study was recently completed. Not surprisingly, it revealed even more harmful results from smoking marijuana that known ever before.

  • Don M

    After using marijuana for about 40 years now, I can honestly say that my only problem with it is the reasonable paranoia I experience because of draconian laws! I believe it is a rarity for law enforcement to encounter a responsible adult user like myself. I don’t break any other laws. There are a lot of other users out there that are perfectly responsible and cause no problems to our society. Indeed, the vast majority of marijuana users (at least the ones that don’t get busted) are good productive citizens.
    At age 57, I am perfectly healthy and don’t take a single medication. My marijuana use is purely recreational. It is not a problem for me in any way shape or form. Some days I use it and others I choose not to. I am able to do that because I am not addicted; not even a little bit.
    There is absolutely no good reason for marijuana to be illegal and for otherwise good law-abiding Americans to be subject to the harsh laws that are prevalent in so many states across this country. I agree with Sarah Palin that our police have better things to do; like catching rapists and robbers. Our Govt has better things to do than to continue funding the DEA and making life miserable for people trying to use medical marijuana; like going after thieving bankers…

  • DanMcD

    Where are your degrees in pharmacology from that qualify you to speak on the medical effects of marijuana or Marinol, Trooper Mowers?

    I’m off to consult with my physician about setting up WiFi.

  • DanMcD

    PS: “Reefer Madness” is not considered a good source of factual information

  • Miles Monroe

    Sure, let’s take a cop’s advice – no vested interest there! – about medical and public health issues; next, let’s get a doctor’s opinion on a legal question, or maybe some financial planning guidance from a member of the clergy … !


  • joeyrockx

    Lol, stick to eating donuts bro, this is way out of your league. Cops are the beef, not the brains, and this is a perfect example of that simple truth.

  • topaztic

    “There is much information available in reference to the actual physical
    harm to the human body and to society as a whole, from smoking
    marijuana.” Soooo, Where is that information exactly? Started looking for it in 1980, haven’t found it yet. I looked on the NIDA/ondcp and the “drug free” sites but the studies they site are not peer reviewed or have been discredited for faulty and or dishonest methods.

  • Witchwindy

    Authoritarian prohibitionists still putting out mis-information and dis-information about cannabis. If you don’t know (or cannot tell) the truth about this herb, please STFU!

  • Mike

    All these comments are from complete idiots. If you start smoking weed on a daily basis when you’re say 12, your brain pretty much stops developing until you quit (if you qiut), and if you don’t, you end up burnt out and pretty much a grown up 12 year old. This is a straight up fact. I’ve seen way too many kids get burnt out because of this drug. Make it legal? Yea, that’s a great idea. I used to think it should be legal, but that was before I seen first hand the lasting effects of it, and before I did any research (my research included talking to doctors, phycologists, and psychotherapists at many hospitals and treatment centers around MN). Maybe all you dead beat pot heads out there should do a little real research before you ignore the facts and the truth. That’s right, you’re probably too lazy to put the bag of chips down and get off the couch.

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