Driving high is a thrill you don’t want to chase

You’re putting more than just yourself at risk by driving high

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shot of a highway or a busy road
PHOTO: Amirul Anirban / The Peak

By: Nercya Kalino, Staff Writer

Content warning: mentions of car accidents

No parent, guardian, friend, partner, or sibling wants to receive a car accident phone call. People die horrifically from car accidents, and if not, there are typically still traumatic repercussions for everyone involved. Driving high might cost someone’s life — if not the driver, it could be the passenger, or another road user. I hate that this is even a conversation we’re having, but we need to address it. 

Driving is a privileged activity regardless of how many years of experience you have. Driving high is unjustifiable — there’s no reason why you should get behind the wheel and put others at risk for your own decisions. It’s an inconsiderate action towards your own safety and those that share the road with you. Some might justify their behaviour by arguing that driving high is “safer” than driving drunk, but drivers under the influence of marijuana are still almost twice as likely to be in a fatal crash as sober drivers.

UBC’s Faculty of Medicine conducted a study at four hospitals in BC that found blood THC levels above 2 nanograms/ml in twice as many injured drivers between 2013–2020. An article about the study stated that while low THC concentrations don’t always indicate impairment, there’s a big risk with higher THC levels. The number of injured drivers with blood THC levels above 5 nanograms/ml, which is considered enough for significant impairment, rose from 1.1 to 3.5 percent after legalization.

To contextualize this with federal law under Bill C-46, it’s the nanograms that matter when it comes to the legality of driving after using cannabis. Between 2–5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood within two hours of driving is a summary conviction. Having a blood alcohol concentration of over “50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 ml of blood, combined with a THC level greater than 2.5 ng per ml of blood” is a hybrid offense which leads to a $1,000 fine, and up to 10 years in prison for repeat offenders. 

This is something to think about when you decide to drive high. One brief moment of poor decision making isn’t worth the DUI, or the lives it could take. Many of us come from countries where cannabis is looked down upon, and in Canada it’s recognized for its legality. However, if you drive high, be aware that your life is not just your own — think about all those that would be hurt if something happened to you.  

That road accident phone call could be about you if you’re not cautious enough. Just because other people are driving high, doesn’t mean you need to parade along. Don’t get in the car if someone is driving high, because they might cost you your life. Driving high, or being present with someone driving high, could take something from you. Set safety boundaries for yourself, and your future self with thank you.