Why You Should Take a Drug and Alcohol Course: A Note about Marijuana and Driving
January 5, 2009
Of course, a Florida drug and alcohol course is mandatory; you’ll have to take it so you can get your driver’s permit. But a certificate isn’t the only thing you should take away from the class – the knowledge you gain could one day save your life.
Drinking alcohol and driving gets a lot of attention, both in driver’s education courses and in the media, and it should; many teens die in alcohol-related crashes each year. But some teens forget about or ignore the effects of illegal drugs on driving, particularly with drugs that are incorrectly perceived to be harmless, like marijuana. But marijuana, whether used alone or in combination with alcohol, is anything but harmless for any driver.
By far, marijuana remains the most widely used illegal drug among teens. The main active chemical in marijuana is THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol). Short-term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning, distorted perception, difficulty in thinking and problem-solving, loss of coordination, and increased heart rate, anxiety, and panic attacks.
After alcohol, marijuana is the substance most frequently found in fatal automobile crashes. Even a moderate dose of marijuana can impair driving performance. Alcohol and marijuana are also often found together, resulting in a dramatic spike in impairment levels and decreased driving performance. The effects of a low dose of marijuana combined with alcohol are much greater than for either drug alone.
Combining any two drugs, or a drug with alcohol, may result in the synergistic effect. This means that the combination of drugs produces effects that are greater than the sum of the effects of the two drugs. This is called an additive effect; instead of a 1 + 1 = 2 result, the synergistic effect may cause a 1 + 1 = 3 result.
Remember, any drug that affects your safe driving can mean a DUI – or worse.
Getting your Florida learner’s permit requires certain steps. Here is a useful Learners Permit checklist to get you started.