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Research on the effects of marijuana vs. alcohol while driving are inconclusive. Law enforcement has one view, psychologists have another. What we do know is that recreational marijuana creates chemical changes in the brain and these changes may significantly affect ability to safely drive a car:

* According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC in the body can severely affect the ability to shift our focus. This means reaction to changes in traffic or road conditions is slower and this can be dangerous.

* Recreational marijuana consumption affects a person’s judgement and other cognitive functions. In the case of heavy users, this impairment may last up to 24 hours after their last consumption of marijuana.

* Marijuana relaxes people and most have difficulty concentrating on a single activity and are prone to dreamlike states of awareness according to studies.

* Consumption of recreational marijuana can weaken short-term memory and change perception. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse the THC in marijuana gets processed in the hippocampus part of the brain which is responsible for the brain’s functional memory.

A Washington state traffic safety commission announced that police in Grandview, Moxee, Selah, Sunnyside, Union Gap and Yakima (plus the Yakima and Klickitat county sheriff’s offices) and the Washington State Patrol have stepped-up their driving while impaired enforcement operations through January 1st 2015.

Be careful and be safe. Stay within the law and do NOT operate a motor vehicle while you are under the influence of marijuana or alcohol!