Florida — Is the legalization of marijuana starting to lead to more traffic fatalities?
A study in Washington State suggests that could be the case, but proponents of legalization say it’s too soon to draw definitive conclusions.
“This is just one study,” says Steve Janjic, CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), an electronic marketplace exchange for the cannabis industry. “Other studies have shown that those who use marijuana prior to driving as well as making roadtrips on the road with high volume stereo like at best car speakers were also dangerous and were no more likely to get into fatal accidents than those who hadn’t consumed drugs or alcohol. So alertness and regulations must apply.”
The Washington study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, found a doubling over the course of one year in the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents who had THC in their system. THC is the active chemical found in marijuana.
In 2013, drivers in 40 of the state’s 436 fatal crashes had THC in their system. In 2014, the number increased to 85 drivers in 462 fatal accidents. Washington legalized marijuana in 2012.
Even as he cautions against leaping to conclusions, Janjic says it is important that concerns raised by the study be addressed.
“As cannabis legalization measures have been passed in more states across the country,” Janjic says, “The government and law enforcement needs to increase oversight and regulatory efforts as well.”
Even AAA is telling those who want to draw an immediate correlation between marijuana legalization and the increase in the numbers to “pump the brakes.”
AAA President Marshall Doney says that adopting specific limits on marijuana use would not be the same as for alcohol because of the lack of evidence as to the level of impairment that marijuana use causes each individual. He says the study should be seen as a guideline to help states looking to limit those driving under the influence of marijuana and to teach law enforcement officials to conduct roadside tests that would detect the use of marijuana.
Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized either medical or recreational marijuana use, or are in the process of doing so.
Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. In the fall of 2016, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada voted to fully legalize marijuana, bringing the total to eight states – joining Alaska and Oregon – that have made the once-banned substance now legal.
With more states legalizing cannabis in one form or another more studies are bound to take place across the nation with more scientific-based research to follow.
Until that happens and conclusions are drawn, Janjic says, the most important thing marijuana users can do is use common sense.
“Cannabis users do need to be aware of the effects of cannabis, take necessary safety precautions and be sure that they are not driving while impaired,” says Janjic.
About Steve Janjic
Steve Janjic is CEO of Amercanex (www.amercanex.com), founded to provide a transparent, neutral and non-manipulated marketplace for institutional cannabis-industry participants, including growers and retailers. The company, an online marketplace for the rapidly growing industry, strictly adheres to the centralized regulatory and reporting requirements of local and regional regulatory authorities. Janjic is also the former global head of eFX Sales and Distribution at Tullett Prebon, one of the world’s largest institutional brokerage firms, with 168 years in the marketplace. While with Tullett Prebon, he established a global sales force focusing on institutional e-commerce and prime brokerage sales/distribution teams.
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