Driving with Mother Jane

An editorial in this morning’s New York Times reminded me of a drive I took from Tulsa to Oklahoma City about 35 years ago.

Driving under the influence of marijuana, the Times said,  is far less hazardous than driving with alcohol.

I was a sports writer back in the day, and was driving home from an assignment with a male friend who happened to have a couple of joints in his pocket.  Not long after getting on the Turner Turnpike, we lit up.  It was a cold winter night, the windows were closed and the smoke grew dense inside the car.  I never got so high in my life.

We started out with the radio tuned to some music from a Tulsa station.  The farther we drove, the weaker the signal and pretty soon we were listening to static.  I remember the static being clear and distinct and so entertaining that we did not switch stations.

I remember too the white line on the pavement.

“Do you think we should pull over?” my friend asked.

“No,” I said, “I’ve never seen the white line so well.”

The world outside my windshield was so clear and I was in a layed-back mood.  The road itself became so interesting I had total focus.  And absolutely no aggression.  If a car had cut me off, I would’ve for the first time in my then young life thought nothing of it.  That night, high as a kite, I was the safest driver on the road.

That was the power of marijuana.

The Times editorial said much the same thing, in quoting several research studies.

“(The studies) have suggested that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually overestimate their impairment.  They slow down and increase their following distance.  The opposite is true of drivers under the influence of alcohol.”

I didn’t need any study to tell me that.


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