- Jennifer Betz
Is it Illegal to Drive While Using Medical Marijuana in Virginia?
Using medical marijuana is the same as using any other marijuana while driving. Law enforcement is most concerned with impairment.
Virginia has several protections in place for medical marijuana patients in the state, including laws preventing employers from taking adverse action against marijuana cardholders who test positive for THC. However, driving while under the influence of marijuana—even if it’s medical marijuana—is illegal and dangerous.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, we know you want to feel your best at all times. Virginia DUI laws are nuanced, medical marijuana products affect everyone differently, and Virginia dispensaries may even offer some products that may not cause any impairment at all.
In this post, we are going to take a look at the specifics of how law enforcement officers determine impairment while driving, and what you can do to ensure your safety while making the most of your natural treatment plan.
Is it Safe to Drive While Using Medical Marijuana?
The simplest answer to this question is no. It’s best to plan your doing properly so that you don’t have to operate heavy machinery of any kind while using medical marijuana. Get yourself a DD, take the bus, or walk where you can. For anyone who uses medical marijuana for chronic symptoms, however, living a Driving Miss Daisy lifestyle is probably not ideal. But there are some strategies that may help you continue a moderately consistent natural relief routine while living life to the fullest.
What Kinds of Medical Marijuana Products Can I Use While Driving?
Technically, it’s illegal to use any marijuana products at the same time that you’re driving. Depending on your level of sensitivity to cannabinoids, however, there might be some products that cause no impairment.
For example, Virginia dispensaries often carry products that are mostly CBD with very little THC, and these are less likely to cause impairment while driving or doing other activities that require mental acuity.
If you are looking for medical marijuana products that can help you maintain a level of natural symptom relief while going about your daily life, talk to a healthcare provider who specializes in cannabis, or the pharmacist at your cannabis dispensary. They can help you understand the effects of specific products, and find the right balance for you.
Virginia Marijuana Card’s health professionals are always there to help you find a comfortable path to wellness through cannabis. We offer unlimited follow-up appointments for the duration of the time your card is valid through us, and you can always give us a call at (888) 633-5808, with questions and concerns about your treatment.
How Long Should You Wait to Drive After Using Medical Marijuana?
Everyone is different in the way their bodies process cannabinoids, but a 2020 study indicated that impairment while driving as a result of THC completely wears off after four to five hours. It’s important to note that this study only looked at the effects of vaping marijuana, and that the psychoactive effects of edibles, tinctures and other formats may take longer. This is encouraging news, because other studies indicate that the pain-relieving effects of THC may last between six and 24 hours. This means that you can likely safely use medical marijuana four to five hours before you have to drive, and still get some of the benefits even after impairment ends.
What Are the Virginia Laws About Driving Under the Influence of Medical Marijuana?
When it comes to driving under the influence of medical marijuana in Virginia, penalties are pretty steep. On your first offense, you will lose your license for a year, and pay a mandatory fine of $250. The penalties only get bigger from there.
With marijuana laws changing in Virginia, law enforcement strategies for stopping drivers and determining their level of impairment has also changed. The odor of fresh marijuana is no longer cause for suspicion, but burned marijuana is still a signal that traffic laws may have been broken.
Keep in mind that simply driving in the state indicates implied consent for any officer who stops you to administer a breathalyzer or blood test if they suspect you of driving while impaired. Refusal may result in the loss of your license for a full year.
Having Consumed THC Does Not Always Mean Impaired Driving
The thing is, since THC stays in your blood for up to 48 hours, the presence of THC doesn’t necessarily indicate impairment. So law enforcement officers are having to take a more practical approach to determining if you might be too impaired to drive.
Chesapeake Sergeant Kenneth Byrd told 13 News Now that “having a beer means you’ve consumed a beer, but doesn’t mean you’re driving impaired. The same thought process with cannabis: it’s legal to smoke marijuana. If you smoke marijuana you’ve consumed it, yes, but whether you’re impaired is a whole different question.” Byrd described what he and other officers have been trained to do in their roadside routine, and they focus on your judgement of timing and distance when evaluating your ability to drive.
The big takeaway, here, is that you are entirely responsible for ensuring your own safety and the safety of others on the road. If you choose to drive while impaired, the penalties are hefty and you are risking your life and the life of others on the road. However, it is still possible to get natural relief when you’ve got places to be. Give our patient support experts a call at (888) 633-5808, or schedule an appointment to talk to one of our healthcare professionals about which medical marijuana products might be right for you!
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
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