There are many research studies showing that drunk driving is dangerous and leads to car crashes. There are also studies showing that some drugs are dangerous and can cause collisions. The research about marijuana, however, seems to be less clear. Now that Florida residents are considering Amendment 2 and other states are considering legalizing medical marijuana or decriminalizing marijuana, the debate has gained new ground.
Opponents of Amendment 2 have stated that legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana would lead to drugged driving. According to one coalition, Don’t Let Florida Go To Pot, one fourth of all fatal motor vehicle collisions can be linked to marijuana. The statistic comes from a 2011 White House Office of National Drug Control Policy report based on data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System. The data is based on fatal accidents between 2005 and 2009. According to that research, there were approximately 127,000 fatal car accidents across 50 states between those years and about 78,000 motorists were tested for drugs in these collisions. The research at the time showed that drivers who tested positive for marijuana use increased between 2005 and 2009, rising from 22.6% to 26% before declining to 25.3% in 2009.
According to those who support Amendment 2, however, the research about marijuana and drugged driving is far from cut and dry. Advocates of legalizing marijuana note that levels of toxicity and the types of testing for marijuana are not standardized and vary widely by state, which means that a positive result may not necessarily mean impairment. They also note that the tests used to test for marijuana use are not well-established and may not be accurate. Even the NHTSA admits that the link between THC in the blood and impairment is difficult to determine, especially since the drug stays in a person’s system for up to 30 days. Even if someone has THC in their blood, it could simply indicate that they had had marijuana weeks before.
Other studies seem equally divided about whether marijuana does lead to impairment and drugged driving. One study released by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in 2011 looked at fatal single-vehicle crashes between 1998 and 2009 and concluded that about 23% of the accidents examined involved marijuana or cannabinoids. A 2014 study from Columbia University, however, looked at car accidents in six states and concluded that marijuana may have played a role in 12% of those collisions. A 2012 study from Oregon, Montana and Colorado, however, found that fatal car accident rates dropped 8-11% in states that legalized medical marijuana.
So, can marijuana increase the risks of traffic collisions in Davie and other communities? There seems to be no clear-cur answer for now. What experts do agree on, however, is that drunk driving in Davie and all communities across the country remains the biggest problem when it comes to fatal drug-related accidents. Most accidents involving a controlled substance involve alcohol, not other drugs.
If you have been injured by a drunk or drugged driver, Flaxman Law Group would like to help by offering a free, no obligation case consultation so that you can review your legal options with one of our attorneys. Contact our law offices today to schedule your free consultation.