Fatal car crashes tied to pot doubled after legalization

Printed from: http://newbostonpost.com/2016/05/10/fatal-car-crashes-tied-to-pot-doubled-after-legalization/

BOSTON – A new report analyzing vehicular accidents in Washington found that the number of fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized the drug in 2012 giving new ammunition to legalization opponents in Massachusetts, where a recent poll showed voters split on the issue.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released its research Tuesday showing that the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 8 percent to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014. One in six drivers involved in a fatal crash in Washington in 2014 had recently used the drug, according to the foundation.

“We are still learning the impact of legalization in other states, but these troubling numbers should give everyone pause about allowing an industry into Massachusetts that will so dramatically impact the health and safety of so many families,” said Corey Welford, spokesman for the Campaign for Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, in a statement.

AAA researchers also examined lab results of drivers arrested for impaired driving, and concluded that legal limits for marijuana and driving are “problematic” because of the lack of science around a specific level of marijuana in the blood that can reliably be used to judge impairment.

Because marijuana can impact users differently, the report recommends that states use a two-tiered system that relies on a positive test for recent marijuana use as well as behavioral and physiological evidence of impairment to enforce driving safety laws.

Written by Matt Murphy