North Dakota’s been working on its marijuana-related laws for a few years. In 2016, voters overwhelmingly approved Measure 5, which legalized the use of medical marijuana, and tried a ballot for recreational weed a couple years later. That one failed for being a bit too wide-reaching, and a 2021 effort to legalize marijuana legislatively passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the North Dakota State Senate.
The people of North Dakota are nothing if not determined, though, so we’re back with another ballot measure this November. Per the Minot Daily News, “The New Approach initiative on the ballot in November would allow people 21 and older to legally use marijuana at home as well as possess and cultivate restricted amounts of cannabis.” The paper reports that the initiative has a good chance of passing this time.
The Secretary of State only required 15,000 signatures to get this to appear on the ballot, and the campaign organizers ended up collecting well over 25,000, and we’re fairly certain it’s going to pass this time. There are a lot of benefits. Legal weed sales could help boost the economy while providing new jobs in agriculture, packaging, and retail. It will ensure that people who are consuming it are getting safe products, too, which allows local police departments to focus on other, more serious crimes at hand.
Besides – we believe in personal responsibility. If you’re an adult and you want to get a little high at the end of your workday or on your day off, you do you. But we do think it’s important to remember that pot is still a drug and all drugs, from OTC allergy meds to prescription painkillers, have risks.
Today’s marijuana is more potent than ever before
For those of us who remember the first time high-waisted pants and crop tops were in style, the idea that “a little weed” could be harmful might seem ridiculous. But to borrow from an old car ad from that era, this is not your father’s marijuana. A 2020 study published in the journal Addiction found that every year, THC concentrations in marijuana get a little bit higher (no pun intended), meaning that the potency of marijuana increases a little bit each year.
While marijuana is not typically associated with overdosing the way, say, heroin or fentanyl are, it is possible to ingest too much. Per Healthline, “edibles” pose the greatest risk of personal injury because they are potent, and it may take time for the effects to kick in. People end up eating too many, which can result in negative reactions.
So should the measure pass, consider this a gentle reminder that too much of any good thing is still too much. It may only be “just a little weed,” but you should be careful like you are with any drug or substance.
Please – don’t drive while high
When marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2014, the state saw a huge spike in cannabis-related traffic crashes and fatalities with marijuana-related traffic fatalities rising over 62%. Even after implementing state-wide initiatives to combat the issue, an average of 13.5% of drivers were under the influence of marijuana at the scene of fatal car accidents.
A controlled study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that marijuana users who operated a driving simulator often failed to maintain their lane and showed “increased time driving below the speed limit and increased following distance during a car following task.” Researchers said it was abundantly clear that these subjects were driving while impaired.
Anecdotally, we’ve heard people say that they’re “safer” drivers while they’re high because they’re less likely to speed (or because they’re so paranoid about getting pulled over that they make sure they follow the rules of the road), but we know this isn’t true. North Dakota had “close to 1,600 drug-related arrests in 2020, including driving under the influence of marijuana” per KXNT News. Trust us when we say – the cops know.
No one is safer while driving under the influence of anything. Marijuana affects your perception, your reaction times, and your motor skills. So if you absolutely have to get somewhere, get yourself a designated driver (or a Lyft) instead of getting behind the wheel.
Parents – you need to talk to your kids about marijuana
If you take anything away from this piece today, please take this: you have to talk to your kids.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 37% of teenagers admitted to smoking marijuana in their at least once in their life, while 22% reported smoking within the past 30 days. The CDC goes on to say that 19% of 10th graders and 22% of 12th graders reported vaping marijuana in the past year.
What we’re looking at here is a more potent substance than what you may remember from your childhood, and a bunch of kids who are just learning to drive. And being a teen is stressful: there’s peer pressure and social media and grades to keep up and jobs (or chores) to do… and all the weight of the world they’re set to inherit. Meanwhile, their brains are still developing and their hormones are out of control. So it makes sense that some kids – yes, even your kids – are going to try to sneak a little weed behind your back, the same way they sneak drinks or stay our past curfew or try to do all the things that kids do when they think no one is looking.
It doesn’t make them bad people; it makes them teenagers. But it’s critical that you discuss the risks with your kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that marijuana use decreases concentration, attention span, and problem solving, and that can affect their grades. As we said, it can significantly alter motor control, coordination, judgment, and reaction time, and that can increase the danger if they decide to get behind the wheel of a car.
Sit the kids down and talk to them about marijuana they way you talked to them about drinking and driving. And if we can offer a little unsolicited life advice, we suggest that you meet them where they are. The cracked eggs did nothing but increase the risk of the munchies.
What happens if I am injured by a drugged driver in Minot?
If you are injured by a drugged driver, you can make a claim for compensation for your injuries and losses through a personal injury claim or lawsuit. You may be entitled to damages for your:
- Medical expenses and costs associated with treatment and care
- Lost wages, including a loss of future earning potential if you cannot return to work
- Pain and suffering, both physical and mental
- Property losses associated with the crash, like the cost to repair or replace your vehicle
- Funeral and burial expenses if the accident is fatal
Legal, recreational marijuana is coming to North Dakota, we have no doubt. Be careful out there, and make sure yours kids know how to be careful, too. If you do get into a car accident (or injured in some other way), Larson Law Firm P.C. can help. Our Minot injury attorneys have experience representing people hurt in accidents due to the negligence of others. We have offices in Minot, Bismarck, and Fargo. Call our office at 701-484-HURT, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.
Mark Larson is a Certified Civil Trial Specialist and Certified Civil Pre-Trial Specialist focusing on personal injury, motor vehicle, wrongful death, and oil field claims. Since 1979, Larson Law Firm has served the injured throughout North Dakota. Read more about Mark V. Larson