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Legalization of Marijuana Has Been Linked to an Increase in Car Accident Deaths


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7/26/2016
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A recent study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (AAA) shows the negative impact of legalized marijuana for recreational purposes on car crash A Gavel With Marijuanafatality rates. It also raises questions about how to keep intoxicated drivers off the road while not penalizing those who are not impaired by their marijuana use. This is because determining when a driver is impaired by marijuana use is much more challenging that with alcohol consumption where blood tests can more accurately test the blood alcohol content (BAC).

Link Between Marijuana Use and Car Accident Deaths

The state of Washington legalized marijuana use for recreational use in December 2012. The AAA study focused on its accident rates and found that:

To combat driving under the influence of marijuana, some states have enacted strict limits on the legal limit of TCH that can be in a person’s bloodstream based on a blood test. TCH is the main ingredient that causes users to become intoxicated. However, researchers in the study questioned the reliability of these tests for several reasons:

  • There is no scientific evidence showing that a driver becomes impaired at a certain level of TCH. Individual drivers will have different reactions to the use of marijuana.
  • High levels of TCH could drop to below the legal limit before the blood test is administered. This is because it could take two hours to obtain a warrant to administer the test, and the TCH level could drop in this time period.
  • Marijuana use affects people differently, and the effects will wear off for some people quickly and slower for others.

AAA recommends that states implement a more comprehensive approach to this problem. They believe it would be more effective to take the following steps:

  • Use a positive test for recent marijuana use.
  • More importantly, require behavioral and physiological evidence of the driver’s impairment.

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Category: Auto Accident

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