With recreational cannabis now legal in California – the law for retail sales went into effect today, January 1, 2018 – there are growing concerns about driving while impaired on marijuana. THC, one of the active ingredients in cannabis, can certainly impair your ability to drive. Motor control and reaction time are affected while on the drug. Proving that a driver is actively high while driving may present a problem, however, as the drug can stay in a person’s system up to a month after consuming it. NBC Los Angeles reports on some of the concerns California law enforcement has on the legalization of the drug.
The combination of cannabis and cars is giving some in the transportation industry cause for concern. Even those in the insurance industry are concerned, raising worrisome questions and pointing to studies that have been conducted in states like Colorado.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety conducted a study regarding claims in states with legalized recreational cannabis like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington. The findings do indicate room for concern.
Colorado witnessed a 14% spike in cannabis-related collisions since 2012. The Denver Post used federal data to conclude that there was a 40% increase in Colorado drivers involved in fatal collisions since 2013. Further, there was a 145% leap in drivers who were found to have marijuana in their systems.
However, legal experts would like to remind people not to jump to conclusions. THC can stay in the bloodstream for up to a month and stays on an average of about 2 to 3 weeks.
One obstacle that law enforcement personnel are facing is finding out when drivers consumed cannabis and at what level.
A breathalyzer-style test has been developed, but testing is difficult due to marijuana’s classification as a Schedule-I drug.
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