Our View: Don’t be in a fog over the dangers of driving while high

Our View
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Many know the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, but apparently some of our teens think that driving while high is no big deal.

Shockingly, 30 percent of teenagers don’t believe that smoking marijuana is a driving distraction. Also, one in five teenagers has reported driving under the influence of marijuana, according to a study released by Liberty Mutual Insurance and Students Against Destructive Decisions.

While these numbers are the minority, they’re way too high. Our youth must know that driving under the influence is driving under the influence, no matter the substance.

As California Highway Patrol Officer David Martinez told the Journal recently, marijuana will impair driving, and that makes the driver a threat to others on the road — this can’t be emphasized enough.

Praise is due for programs, such as the “Buzz Kill” forum coming March 27, spearheaded by Jon Hamblen, head of campus security at Sierra College in Rocklin. Programs like this raise awareness and open our younger generations’ eyes to the severity of the problem. More events, such as Buzz Kill, should be rolled out, and not just at our local college, but at our high schools, and even middle schools.

We tell our teens from a young age not to drink and drive. We should be telling them the same when it comes to narcotics. And it seems that many are. In the Liberty Mutual study 72 percent of teens say that they would ask a driver not to get behind the wheel after smoking marijuana.

The other key cog in the machine against reducing driving while under the influence of marijuana is enforcement. While those under the influence of alcohol can easily be tested with a Breathalyzer and field sobriety tests, it seems determining those under the influence of marijuana is tougher.

While law enforcement watches for erratic driving and unique mannerisms, and then administers field sobriety tests, what are other ways to know when someone is under the influence of marijuana?

According to Martinez, only one marijuana arrest has been made since the start of this year by the local CHP. Is that because there just isn’t many, or is it because they aren’t as easily detectable? These are questions that need to be answered with better testing techniques and standards.

For now, the best way to put the brakes on driving under the influence of marijuana is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and that comes back to outreach. We encourage Mr. Hamblen to take his program on the road to Auburn, to Roseville, Rocklin, Lincoln and the county. Because under the influence, is under the influence no matter the substance.


What: “Buzz Kill” A Forum on the Consequences of a
Marijuana DUI
When: 11 a.m. Tuesday, March 27
Cost: Free
Where: Dietrich Theater, Sierra College, 5000 Rocklin Road, Rocklin
Event Details: The purpose of this forum is to heighten the awareness and understanding in the community and amongst student populations the risks associated with marijuana use and the legal ramifications of driving under its influence. Performances by the Auburn Hip Hop Congress and a mock marijuana DUI trial by the Placer County District Attorney’s Office will also take place.