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Ohio Warns Against Boating While Under the Influence of Cannabis

The consequences of boating under the influence can be severe.

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iStock/Robert Daly

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As Ohioans prepare for fun and adventure during the upcoming summer boating season, the Ohio Department of Commerce Divisions of Liquor Control and Cannabis Control and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) are emphasizing the importance of adhering to alcohol, cannabis and boating laws to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on Ohio's waterways.

Alcohol consumption and cannabis use while operating a boat pose a serious risk to both the operator and passengers. In Ohio, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher or be under the influence of marijuana, just as it is illegal to drive a car. The consequences of boating under the influence can be severe, leading to accidents, injuries and even fatalities.

“We make safety a top priority so people can enjoy Ohio’s rivers and lakes,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “We urge every Ohioan and visitor to follow the law by boating sober and wearing a life jacket this summer. Those simple steps will help keep you, your loved ones, and fellow boaters safe.”

The Division of Liquor Control and Division of Cannabis Control emphasize responsible alcohol and cannabis consumption both on land and on the water, and remind Ohioans that open container laws still apply on publicly owned waterways. Boaters are encouraged to designate a sober operator if substances will be consumed during their outing that could cause impairment, ensuring that everyone onboard can enjoy the day responsibly.

“Alcohol and boating do not mix,” said Jacqueline DeGenova, Superintendent of the Division of Liquor Control. “We urge all boaters to prioritize safety by staying sober while operating a vessel and responsibly enjoying Ohio's waterways.”

“With the legalization of non-medical cannabis use in Ohio following the passage of Issue 2 last November, it is critically important that individuals who choose to consume cannabis products fully understand the unique impact these products have on them,” said Jim Canepa, Superintendent of the Division of Cannabis Control. “Anyone who chooses to use these products are urged to do so in a safe and responsible manner, and should never operate a boat or any other kind of vehicle while under the influence.”

ODNR is highlighting enforcement efforts to crack down on boating while under the influence. Patrols will be vigilant in monitoring watercraft for any signs of impairment and will take swift action to remove impaired operators from the water to prevent accidents and safeguard the public.

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