KOMO News in Washington state reported yesterday that the number of Washington state drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for THC has doubled.
The article reports:
According to research by AAA between 2008 and 2012, an estimated eight percent of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate now is more than double since weed became legal in Washington.
In the five years before legislation, an average of 56 Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes each year were THC positive. In the five years after legislation, that average jumped to 130.
“We know that marijuana use can inhibit concentration, slow reaction time, and cloud judgment. There’s no reason to think that’s not going to happen when you are behind the wheel. That doesn’t suddenly change,” said Kelly Just of AAA.
THC is the active compound in marijuana and can stay in your body for a period of time before disappearing.
“There really isn’t a test to show impairment, so you may have it in your system, may not be impaired. You may have it in your system and may be impaired. Because of that our recommendation is if you use marijuana, don’t drive and if you plan to drive don’t use marijuana,” said Just.
“We’re running across people under the influence and driving all the way from teenagers, all the way up to people in their forties and fifties. So keep in mind the safest bet is just to not get behind the wheel if you plan on using marijuana that day or night,” said Trooper Chris Thorson of the Washington State Patrol.
I know there is a move for legalization of marijuana, but I question the wisdom of legalizing a drug for recreational use in the middle of an opioid epidemic. There are a lot of pathways to drug addiction and a lot of things that can happen when drugs are used for recreation. The pattern of increased accidents caused by an increase in marijuana use as a result of legalization has been seen in other states. The legalization of marijuana may make some people happy, but it makes all of us less safe.