Marijuana legalization is sweeping the nation. Medical marijuana use is now legal in 30 states, while 9 others have legalized marijuana for recreational use. As public support mounts for both medical and recreational use, legalization will likely increase the number or car collisions in the in the near future. Although many supporters cite the benefits of marijuana legalization, the cost to others is often overlooked. A recent NBC report details the dangers that marijuana legalization has caused for those on the roadways. In the 4 states which the legalization of recreational marijuana use has taken effect, the number car collisions has rose between 5% to 6%. Even more troubling is that children were in present in 14% of cases which drivers were under the influence of marijuana.
The increase in drivers under the influence of marijuana also presents a number of issues for law enforcement and attempts for legal reform. Unlike measuring blood alcohol levels, discerning whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana is a much more difficult task. Blood alcohol levels spike shortly are the consumption of alcohol and rapidly dissipate in the hours thereafter. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, affects the body differently. Although users experience a spike in THC levels shortly after use, THC levels do not rapidly dissipate in the hours follow consumption. Instead, THC levels gradually tapers off over the course of weeks following marijuana consumption, long after a user has sobered up from initial use. This issue is further exacerbated by the fact that there is no easy way ascertain whether drivers are under the influence of marijuana, despite having THC in their systems.
The increasing normalization of marijuana use has come with both benefits and burdens. Many people are now able to enjoy the medicinal benefits of marijuana without fear of criminal penalties, while the irresponsible use of others is placing many at risk. Ultimately, an appropriate balance needs to be struck between individual liberties and the safety of others. Over the past 25 years, Attorney Kevin Garrison sought justice for car collision victims and their families. Garrison Law firm focuses on personal injury cases, and welcomes all questions either online or by phone.