If parents haven’t already had this talk with their kids — what are they waiting for?
Dr. Mike Lynn, an emergency medicine physician, recently wrote an op-ed on the topic or The Mercury News in the San Francisco Bay area of California. His article, “It’s time to have ‘the talk’ with kids (about pot),” is an emotional appeal to all parents to be better informed about the availability of marijuana and the changing nature of our kids’ attitudes toward it.
Lynn, also a father and a deputy sheriff, said that right now, too many teens “just don’t get it.”
“In Oregon, 1 in 5 high school juniors reported using marijuana,” he wrote. “Of those, half said they had driven within three hours of smoking pot, the window when marijuana can cause impairment. Nationwide, three out of four 11th and 12th graders say they think smoking marijuana does not negatively impact their driving. More than a third believe it makes them better drivers.”
Lynn added, “Driving stoned is dangerous, and our children are misinformed. They are relying on friends and on misinformation online.”
Numerous studies have shown that marijuana use impairs judgment, alertness, concentration, coordination, and reaction time, he pointed out. It’s believed to double a driver’s risk of being in a crash — and when it’s paired with alcohol, the risk of an accident can increase as much as 20 times.
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“Too many times, I’ve had to deliver the terrible news to families when loved ones have been killed or seriously injured in drug and alcohol-impaired accidents,” Lynn wrote.
California pharmacist Phillip Drum said he couldn’t agree more with Lynn’s concerns.
“It is never too early to talk to children about impaired driving. From the time they understand impairment from alcohol, that would be the time to include marijuana in the discussion,” Drum told LifeZette. “As a pharmacist, I would add that other drugs impair your ability to drive — sleeping pills, pain medications, and stronger drugs such as heroin.”
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He noted that a study was done years ago on airline pilots, who were tested 24 hours after using a “social” dose of what would now be deemed extremely low-dose THC — 2-3 percent compared to the 25-30 percent THC available now.
“[Seven of the 10] pilots were unable to fly the plane even 24 hours later without … a dramatic adjustment equivalent to weaving down a road. One pilot even missed the landing strip,” said Drum.
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The conversation about the dangers of mixing marijuana with driving likely isn’t happening in schools or anywhere else right now. Lynn and Drum both say the “talk” must happen at home.
“Marijuana took over as the No. 1 drug from meth in driving fatalities in 2006 after alcohol,” said Drum. “In Colorado, of marijuana DUIs, one-third [of those] was from marijuana alone, one-third was from marijuana plus alcohol, and the remaining one-third was either a mix of marijuana, alcohol, and another drug, or marijuana and another drug.”
You don’t want to lose a loved one, Drum added — as he has — due to another person’s lack of caring for others. “Just as you would not get in a car with someone under the influence of alcohol — the same thing applies to pot. It is a hallucinogen, period. It never makes you drive better. It only makes you drive worse. Potheads not only speed, they kill people.”