When you feel different, you drive different

How cannabis affects drivers

POV shot of hands behind a steering wheel, mountains in the distance. Text overlay reads "Physiological Impairment. When you feel different, you drive different. How cannabis affects drivers."

There’s no doubt cannabis consumption affects the body and the brain. But what do these effects look like, exactly? Discover more about how and why cannabis affects your ability to drive safely. 

Behavioral Impairment & Physiological Impairment

It’s important to distinguish between behavioral and physiological impairment. Defined as a response to external stimuli, such as cannabis consumption, behavioral impairment from cannabis can include:

  • Lack of concentration.
  • Decreased ability to perform divided attention tasks — such as driving.
  • Altered perception of time.
  • Altered perception of distance. 
  • Relaxed inhibitions.

“Physiological” relates to the way in which the human body functions. Physiological impairment from cannabis can include:

  • Slower reaction time.
  • Rapid changes in heart rate, body temperature and blood pressure.
  • Conjunctival suffusion (irritated, red eyes).
  • Dry mouth and throat.

Cannabis affects both behavioral and physiological impairment, altering the basic cognitive functions necessary to drive safely (reaction time, motor coordination, decision making), putting you at a high risk of a DUI. Studies have also shown that driving impaired on cannabis can double the risk of being in a crash.  

Driving Impairment and DUI

Cognitive functions like basic motor coordination, decision-making abilities and problem solving are impacted by drug intake, putting cannabis consumers in danger should they choose to drive impaired. Imagine living with lag and having to function normally through everyday tasks — that’s a challenge in and of itself. 

More than half of Colorado residents view driving high as a “very concerning” public safety issue. Yet, those who do not consider it a public safety issue are more likely than U.S. adults overall to consider it a minor traffic offense. The cost of a DUI in Colorado can exceed $13,500, which could impact your life for years. Multiple offenses can lead to a felony conviction in Colorado.

The Choice Is Yours

It’s not to say you’re not a great driver — you very well may be. But when it comes to driving impaired on cannabis, it’s not worth the risk. With 278 impaired driving fatalities on Colorado roads in 2022 alone, we urge you to make the safest choice. Although most of these traffic deaths involved alcohol, an increasing number involved active THC — and many of them involved a combination of alcohol and THC.  

Simply put: Stay home and enjoy, get a sober ride, or wait until you’re sober to drive. Keep yourself and others safe on the road.