Marijuana legalization is a hot-button issue both nationwide and in individual states these days. Several states have already legalized recreational marijuana and a good many more have legalized medical marijuana. However, there now is a rise in car crashes due to driving while stoned. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Traffic Safety Board are issuing stark warnings concerning the connection between the two, as Omaha.com reports.
In a study that will be released in full on Thursday, the Institute for Highway Safety found that traffic accidents are on the rise in states that have legalized marijuana. This news came after stark warnings from the NTSB, which issued its own recommendations to combat drugged driving.
In the study, the IIHS said that in states where marijuana is legalized, including Washington, Colorado, Nevada, and Oregon, traffic accidents rose 6% compared to neighboring and nearby states where it remained illegal.
David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute, said, “The bottom line of all of this is that we’re seeing a consistently higher crash risk in those states that have legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.”
Another problem is that people often mix marijuana with alcohol and other drugs, making it difficult to separate the varying effects.
In 2015, 46% of drivers who died in automobile accidents tested positive for drugs, up from only 30% in 2006.
One of the recommendations was for the traffic safety administration to develop a test that could use saliva to determine if drugs had been recently used.
One of the problems in researching the impairing effects of marijuana on driving is that the studies done in the past were made when marijuana was much less potent than the marijuana available at dispensaries in legalized states.