With the legalization of recreational cannabis in Massachusetts many marijuana dispensaries have been opening up in towns across Massachusetts including Fall River, Bridgewater, Taunton, and Fairhaven. With this ever-growing influx of residents and visitors consuming cannabis/THC products, Massachusetts lawmakers have been busy sorting out the details to help to keep our state safe and responsible.
Driving Under The Influence of Cannabis/THC is Illegal
Though recreational cannabis use has been made legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it is as illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis as it is for alcohol or any other controlled substance. This goes for any products containing cannabis/THC, including edibles and prescribed medical marijuana. Along with distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a leading cause of car accidents, auto-pedestrian accidents and auto-bicycle accidents throughout Southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This is why driving while high is to be taken very seriously.
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. § 24(1)(a)(1) states any individual who “…operates a motor vehicle with a percentage, by weight, of alcohol in their blood of eight one-hundredths or greater, or while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, or of marijuana, narcotic drugs, depressants or stimulant substances…shall be punished by a fine of not less than five hundred nor more than five thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than two and one-half years, or both such fine and imprisonment.”
The Dangers Of Driving High
When it comes to driving under the influence, cannabis/THC is quite similar to alcohol and is treated as such. Areas like the green in downtown Taunton where route-140, route-44 and route-138 all meet can be hectic and difficult to navigate sober. A stoned driver is far more likely to strike a pedestrian or find themselves in a car crash with another merging vehicle.
When it comes to Massachusetts drunk driving laws, a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent by volume, will establish that the driver is operating under the influence. There isn’t so simple a test for marijuana, however much like with alcohol police can look for cues of high/impaired drivers like swerving out of lanes and driving at inconsistent or slower speeds. If an officer pulls over a suspected high driver, they may implement a roadside impairment examination which tests cognition, reflexes and balance.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Marijuana can slow your reaction time and ability to make decisions.
- Marijuana use can impair coordination, distort perception, and lead to memory loss and difficulty in problem-solving.
- The risk of impaired driving associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol appears to be greater than that for either by itself.
“Open Container” Laws For Cannabis THC Products
Like with alcohol, it is illegal to have an open package of marijuana or product containing cannabis/THC in the passenger area of any vehicle on the road. This includes a package/ bag of marijuana flowers or edibles that has had its seal broken or contents partially removed or consumed. Individuals are allowed to have an open container of marijuana in their car as long as it is stored in the trunk, a locked glove compartment, or any part of the vehicle not occupied by a driver or passenger. According to Massachusetts state law, the penalty for a marijuana open container violator in Massachusetts is a fine of up to $500.
D+Z: Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys In Massachusetts & Rhode Island
Dussault & Zatir P.C. has experienced lawyers on call at +1-800-542-4LAW to answer your personal injury questions. With offices in New Bedford, Fall River and Taunton, Massachusetts, as well as an office in Providence, Rhode Island, if you’ve been injured, our lawyers are here to fight for you.
*The above is not to be considered as legal advice. Every case is different and the laws which apply may differ from state to state.
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