2015-10-05 23:17:55

Now that a few states have legalized selling of marijuana as a recreational past time, other states are watching, and deciding whether they will follow the same route, and many questions are starting to arise.

Legalizing pot in the states of Colorado and Washington has left many people wondering if traffic accidents and deaths will rise within these states. Washington is now questioning how authorities can better handle highways regarding the threat of drugged drivers vs drunk drivers.

In a hearing in the US House of Representatives in Washington DC, US Representative Gerry Connolly - D-Va., believes we need more science regarding the subject. There is a huge debate going on now regarding the potential dangers posed by stoned drivers, and how law enforcement should test these drivers to determine impairment.

Connolly went on to point out the extensive documentation involving the number of people killed in 2010 due to alcohol impaired accidents. That calculates to approximately 31% or 1/3 of all traffic deaths in the US.

Raw data from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation

Raw data from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation

Where Are the Standards:

As this entire subject is brand new within the US, how do we set standards for testing drivers that are high on marijuana? US Rep. John Mica - R from Florida, has called for hearings on the subject. He, as well as other Representatives, feel there is an inherent danger in other states following suit with Colorado and Washington. If more states start legalizing use of marijuana as a recreational drug, what is going to happen on our highways? Mica believes that with more people on the highways who are stoned, there are going to be major consequences down the road.

There is little to no research regarding smoking pot or vaporizing and then getting behind the wheel of a car. That fact makes it extremely difficult for legislators to address the impact of "future" figures.

The Survey of 2010

A survey taken in 2011 reported that 10.3 million Americans said they had driven under the influence of illegal drugs in 2010. This survey also pointed out that in 2012, pot was the most common drug used, with 18.9 million users in the past month.

Raw data from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation

Raw data from the Colorado Dept. of Transportation

More Research is Needed:

Other agencies are coming forward with concerns and figures regarding alcohol and drug consumption by people behind the wheel of a vehicle. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's, Jeff Michael, stated that with the legal availability of alcohol, this is still the leading source of impairment behind the wheel. This leaves a huge "Butt" when it comes to research on the effects of drugs - i.e. statistics about marijuana  and its role in fatal car accidents.

NHTSA is looking to Washington state's legal sales of marijuana to weigh in about the effects now, and bouncing that off the percentages of accidents involving the substance before the legalization of pot took place.

At this given time, there is very little to set standards by, so there are no acceptable testing guidelines. To state how many or what percentage of people are impaired by marijuana when driving is almost impossible. The only numbers the House and other agencies are receiving right now are from fatalities.

Unfortunately, watching and waiting are all that is possible before legislators can even attempt to place guidelines and restrictions for the use of marijuana when behind the wheel of a vehicle.

To read more about vaping vs smoking, or to find more marijuana news, click here.

Congressional Debates Regarding Cannabis:

  • US House of Representatives OKs Marijuana Banking
  • Legislation Bill Could Legalize Medical Marijuana

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