Drunk and high driving: Where’s the crime?

Q. The biggest problem for me with the legalization of marijuana is the enforcement of “high driving.” Technology right now isn’t capable of knowing when the driver smoked; it may have been a week ago, legally in their home, and they’re no longer high (or, on the other hand, 20 minutes ago and they are illegally driving high). Currently, it’s impossible to tell the difference. In my opinion, it’s just not economically sound to spend tons of money on these technologies right now, so how would we enforce “high driving” without this technology? — Alexander Holzbach, from Tallahassee, Florida.

A. I don’t see a problem with driving high (or drunk, for that matter) as long as you don’t hurt anything or anyone.  If you do, then you should be prosecuted just as anyone else would be.  If you don’t, where’s the crime?

There’s a greater risk that comes with driving high, yes, but is it really any worse than the natural variation of driving skill which will occur in the population regardless of chemically-induced states?  I don’t think so. For instance:

There are many factors that cause a person to drive poorly. You may have sore muscles after a weight-lifting session and have slow reactions. You could be sleepy. You could be in a bad mood, or angry after a fight with your spouse. Should the government be allowed to administer anger tests, tiredness tests, or soreness tests?

The point is that if no person or property has been hurt, there’s no crime.  Vice, definitely, but no crime.  Simple as that.

Nonetheless, if a judge or jury wished to inflict more severe rulings or punishments for high/drunk drivers who crash into things, that would be fine.  There’s certainly a greater recklessness to take into account than there is with crashes based on pure accident.  But by no means should high driving be illegal.

For further reading on why drunk and high driving are not crimes:

I particularly recommend the first article for its brevity.

Originally posted here.

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