Marijuana and painkillers are two popular drugs of choice. With marijuana becoming legal in a number of states and jurisdictions, many users underestimate the risks involved with smoking or ingesting the substance. Similarly, many individuals who take painkillers also doubt the serious risks involved, because they know that these drugs are available with a prescription.
Recently, Florida passed Amendment 2, which expands the pool of individuals who will be eligible for a medical marijuana card. In the past, only those who were terminally ill with less than one year to live were eligible. Now, patients with certain disorders, such as HIV/AIDS or multiple sclerosis, may apply for a medical marijuana card. Of course, those with legal permission to use marijuana are not the only individuals that use it. A 2016 poll revealed that 1 in 8 adults admitted to smoking marijuana. That’s about 13 percent of the population.
However, though marijuana may be helpful for many patients who suffer from chronic pain and other ailments, using marijuana should not be taken lightly. Marijuana may cause feelings of panic, hallucinations, reduced concentration, poor coordination, and increased heart rate. Users may find that they have a difficult time completing tasks. Once the initial high of marijuana begins to wear off, users may feel sad or depressed. They may also feel exhausted.
If a user smokes or ingests marijuana before driving, the results can be devastating. Those who drive while high may experience impaired judgment, poor coordination, and a slower reaction time. Taking just a few extra seconds to react can cause a terrible accident. In fact, studies have shown that there is a link between THC concentration, the primary chemical in marijuana that alters the brain, and impaired driving. Some reports show that driving after using marijuana leads to an increase in weaving between lanes.
Although those using marijuana for pain management is on the rise, the market for painkillers has not taken any major hits. There are hundreds of different painkillers on the market. Individuals with and without prescriptions for these substances abuse them. Addictive painkillers are also available over the counter.
Narcotic painkillers are the most dangerous substances. Examples include OxyContin and Percocet. Narcotics have serious short- and long-term effects on the body and the brain. Most painkillers are opioids, which are a type of depressant. Depressants slow communication between the brain and the rest of the body. If a person takes painkillers before driving, that person may suffer reduced reaction time, a loss of coordination, blurred vision, drowsiness, nausea, and an inability to think clearly. These effects may last up to 24 hours.
If the driver is suffering from withdrawals, the driver may experience cramps, flu-like symptoms, or cravings. Painkillers will significantly reduce a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Prescription drug abuse has been labeled an epidemic in the United States. It is estimated that 17,000 deaths every year are caused by painkiller abuse. The legalization of marijuana may actually reduce the number of deaths caused by painkillers, although it is still too early to call. However, since marijuana may impair an individual while driving, it should be used with caution.
And, of course, a driver may still be arrested for driving under the influence if he or she uses painkillers or marijuana before driving.
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Were you injured by a driver who drove under the influence of painkillers or marijuana? During our free consultation, we will discuss your legal options. To schedule your free consultation, call 561-777-7700 or visit www.shinerlawgroup.com.