The recreational and medical usage of marijuana has already been legalized in more than 20 states, including Colorado and Washington. However, the situation is not as good as we expected. People are uneasy about stoned firemen in the driver’s seat and the increase of crashes. Let us clear up all the facts on marijuana that may be helpful in understanding this situation.
There are many interesting facts about marijuana that are already confirmed by a number of scientific experiments. Thus, for instance, we know that cannabis users can easily do simple tasks. However, it takes a large part of their brain to perform them well. Their quick reaction capability becomes lower, their peripheral vision decreases, and they are not able to perform several tasks at the same time. This means that if something happens suddenly, a weed smoker will respond poorly. On the flip side, cannabis smokers usually know that it is better to use weed at home and avoid driving not to hurt anybody and not to be engaged in unpleasant or dangerous situations.
However, we still do not know, how big is the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) effect on car crashes risk. The results of the conducted studies are different. While some of them state that cannabis doubles the crash risk, others claim that there is no risk increase at all.
The most important problem here is that we do not know what dosage of marijuana is considered to be too high. The dosage of weed, as you know, is an individual issue. The second problem is THC traces that can be found in the blood of permanent weed users. Even if such person does not smoke cannabis today, their blood may contain THC traces. That will make it impossible to rely on blood tests. However, being quite concerned about this matter, Colorado and Washington made rules for marijuana impairment while operating a vehicle, stating that drivers with five nanograms of active THC in their blood are considered to drive under the influence (DUI). Since alcohol tests are not working for detecting weed, some states are trying to come up with an effective saliva test.
Let us refer to the statistics. Washington state legalized marijuana in 2012. In 2013, the number of drivers who used cannabis increased by the estimated 25% compared to the previous year. However, there was no increase in corresponding accidents and arrests for DUI.
In Colorado, however, the situation is different. According to the University of Colorado Medical School statistics, the number of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving stoned drivers increased by more than 50%.
The studies of the National Safety Council showed that the legalization of marijuana did not assert influence over crashes.
The main issue now is to find out more information about the effects of marijuana on a driver. This is the next step on the agenda of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.