NewsProject Drive Sober


Project Drive Sober: Perceptions of marijuana impairment

Michigan legalizes recreational marijuana
Posted at 7:02 PM, Jun 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-19 00:00:20-04

MARINETTE, Wis. — A trip from Marinette, Wisconsin across the bridge to Menominee, Michigan doesn't appear to change much.

The landscape is similar and so are the people. However, there is one big difference that law enforcement is watching closely.

"You literally can go two blocks away from here and purchase and use," Marinette Police's Scott Ries said.

The Marinette Police Department is preparing for Michgan's leap into the recreational marijuana industry. Officers expect Wisconsinites to join in.

""(The) trend for people has really increased to society just accepting drugs and their relationship with that," Ries said.

So much so that people may not think twice when getting behind the wheel.

"People, when they're driving under the influence of marijuana, it relaxes their body," Ries said. "They just feel like they're invincible."

It could have people soon reach a perception that driving high isn't dangerous. It may not match reality. Research from the Society for the Study of Addiction shows that marijuana users who drive high are twice as likely to be involved in a crash.

"I think part of it is people don't want to see the danger," AAA Midwest Region director of public affairs Nick Jarmusz said. "I think a lot of that comes from people who maybe, in their personal experience, because their reaction has been different, they don't see it as dangerous."

Jarmusz said marijuana impairs reaction time and a driver's judgment.

"If you feel different then normal, then you're going to drive different than normal," Jarmusz said.

It's a message AAA and local law enforcement want people to hear. Michigan's laws will make access to marijuana easier. Wisconsin's laws still make it illegal to drive high.