Will Massachusetts Marijuana Ballot Initiative Lead to More Auto Accidents?

Massachusetts Attorneys Defending Marijuana DUI Charges

According to a poll released September 13, 2016, supporters of a ballot question that would legalize recreational marijuana in the Bay State slightly outnumber those who oppose the initiative. The survey, conducted Sept. 7-10 by The MassINC Polling Group, finds 50 percent of responders would vote “yes” to legalize marijuana, while 45 percent oppose such legislation.

Should Massachusetts make recreational pot legal, it won’t, of course, be the first state to have done so. What can Bay State residents learn from other states? Can legal pot co-exist with a relatively safe highway system? The answer may depend upon whom you ask.

AAA Says Fatal Road Crashes Involving Pot Doubled After Washington State Legalized Drug

According to a May 2016 report published by the American Auto Association (AAA), fatal crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled in Washington after the state legalized the drug. Washington was one of the first two states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. AAA officials argue that these findings raise serious concerns about drug-impaired driving in states, such as Massachusetts, that are considering marijuana legalization this year.

Is the Data All That Clear, However?

Those favoring pot legalization say the data isn’t so clear. They point, for example, to at least one report that showed that after marijuana legalization in Colorado, highway fatalities fell to near-historic lows.

Wait, so legalizing marijuana saves lives? Researchers say, “no,” but the difficulty in coming to a clear conclusion gets muddled in the difference between “correlation” and “causation.” Just because there is a time-based relationship between two issues doesn’t mean one caused the other. So marijuana proponents say that while there is no real data that legalizing pot saves lives, there is also no solid proof that it causes an increase in fatalities. One would expect that following legalization, more Colorado or Washington state citizens would use the drug. Accordingly, under almost any circumstances, the number of drivers testing positive for marijuana would increase.

Problem With Drug Testing: It Doesn’t Actually Test for Inebriation

The problem with marijuana drug testing is that it can only account for the presence of marijuana metabolites, not for inebriation. Toxicologists point out that metabolites can linger in the body for days after the drug’s effects wear off. Sometimes, the presence of the metabolites can remain in the body for weeks. Because each of us metabolizes drugs differently (and at different times and under different conditions), all that a positive test tells us is that the driver has smoked pot at some point in the past few days or weeks.

Additional Study Required

More study is necessary. Some studies of marijuana’s effects show its use can slow decision-making, decrease peripheral vision, and impede multitasking, all of which are critical driving skills. Others point out that unlike with alcohol, however, drivers high on pot tend to be aware that they are impaired and try to compensate by driving slowly, avoiding risky actions such as passing other cars, and allowing extra room between vehicles.

Involved in an Auto Crash?

Have you or a loved one been injured in an auto crash? If so, you may be able to recover monetary damages for your injuries and other loss. You deserve skillful, energetic, and experienced attorneys to help you prepare your case. The injury lawyers at the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC have the resources to investigate the accident and fight to protect your legal rights. We will pursue your case at no cost until we win. Remember that delay can harm your case. Our experienced legal team is available 24/7 for a free consultation. Give us a call at 866-529-9700, or complete our convenient online contact form.