December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.
* Reader discretion is advised, content describes details of violent crimes.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) helped wake up the country to the dangers of drunk driving. They succeeded in getting laws changed, nationwide in the United States. Now that four more states have legalized marijuana, what about stoned or high driving? Driving under the influence of a drug (DUID), is this something to be concerned about or, is it, as many stoners believe, people drive better while impaired?
Many recent crashes in Illinois suggest that pot users think it’s safe to drive after toking, or they simply don’t care. Prior to the decriminalization of marijuana, Illinois experienced less than 1000 vehicle deaths each year. In 2016, the year of marijuana decriminalization, traffic deaths rose to 1078. In 2017, 1091 people died from fatal crashes on Illinois roads, and 1038 died in 2018.
With decriminalization, Illinois raised the marijuana limit from zero THC to 5 ng of THC. When politicians talk of decriminalization or legalization, they signal to the public a belief that pot is harmless.
When I was 17 my BFF Lisa was in a single car accident. She was prone to smoking bong hits and driving with her knees. She was in a coma for a year and died. I first smoked pot with her and her mom. Lisa was her only child.
I blamed a faulty car for her death, not pot.
In my 30s, I partied with a young 20s co-worker from UMass. She had smoked strong pot, AK-47 for years. I stopped hanging out once she became paranoid, delusional and agoraphobic. She later was in a mental hospital for schizophrenia and has been on disability ever since.
I blamed her genes for her debilitating mental illness, not pot.
I dated a patient, also named Lisa, at the dispensary who had extreme psychotic episodes whenever she smoked high potency Sativa. She would almost collapse, regress into a two-year-old state of mind, scream at the top of her lungs and then go into loud, joyous religious rapture singing.
The scariest experience was when in psychosis she uttered in a guttural deep voice so unlike her’s, “Choke her!” It was an alarming Sybil Stephen King moment that sent chills down my spine. I didn’t know if her split personality was talking about choking herself or me.
Needless to say, it was very hard being with her, we were not a good match whatsoever and broke up. I later learned that she committed suicide at 52.
I blamed her diagnosis of bipolar for her suicide, not pot.
Rip the Pot Van Winkle
One time in college my friends had too much water in a bong – really dirty, unchanged, high potency bong water. The too high water level caused me to unintentionally swallow a huge mouthful of bong water when I released the carburetor.
I immediately started to hallucinate, almost passed out. Was lucky to stay conscious long enough to make it to the bathroom and vomit profusely. Took a heck of a long time for my mind to clear and body to recover. But I saw no problem with continuing to use pot.
For years I discounted all of those signposts showing that marijuana is dangerous because I was so enmeshed in my pot denial.
When, finally, I experienced such terrible physical and mental effects myself, this Rip the Pot Van Winkle woke up out of a pot slumber. The truth could no longer be denied. Horrible psychosis woke me up. I am SO lucky I survived.
I had the epiphany that pot caused my BFF’s death via DUI; pot caused my friend to become schizophrenic, and pot caused psychosis and suicide with my ex-girlfriend. Pot caused me to think violent thoughts like shooting people, and brought me to the brink of suicide.
Pot almost took me out. I couldn’t perceive the damage because I was high on pot.
By Anne Hassel, a new friend of Parents Opposed to Pot.