Three states in America have legalised the use of pot, they are: Colorado, Washington and Montana. Marijuana legalisation has yet to be introduced here. If moves are made to legalise the use of marijuana here then a lot of concern will be generated about people driving while being stoned. Some people would argue that it would lead to an increase in traffic fatalities.
People need to be aware of the effects that marijuana legalisation would have on critical driving abilities. Reaction times are significantly lowered, an ability to multi-task reduces and peripheral vision declines. There is also a risk that people may drink and take marijuana at the same time, reducing their driving skills and judgement even further. However, unlike the influence of alcohol it is said that drivers who are high on pot are more cautious, try to drive more slowly, avoid risky manoeuvres when passing other cars and will allow extra room between vehicles.
The findings from Marijuana Legalisation
Rethinking driving stoned, after this tale of four dead students after the marijuana legalisation
Colorado, Washington and Montana have set a threshold of 5/1bn of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in pot, in the blood. Reports show that approximately 25% of drivers had been positively tested for marijuana in 2013 – the year that marijuana was legalised. Despite this there have not been any spikes in motor accidents. Researchers are divided about this as all the studies have been inconclusive.
A reason for the inconclusiveness of these studies is that when drivers are involved in a fatal crash they are often not tested for any substances that can induce impairments. Also, if alcohol use is detected, then officials will not test for further substances as this alone can carry criminal charges. Testing can also vary between states.
Previous studies have failed to separate the difference between alcohol and other drugs. A study conducted by Asbridge, Hayden & Cartwright (2012) shows that when pot is taken before driving a vehicle the risks of collision are doubled. The chances of crashing are increased even higher if the driver is under the age of 35! For more information on the study go onto: http://www.bmj.com/content/344/bmj.e595
It is clear that smoking pot can affect all drivers negatively. This is a dangerous substance to use before and even during driving. It has been reported that younger males are more likely to take risks when driving; affecting virtually everyone else on the road. Due to the unpredictability of the effects that this drug can have on individuals it would be advisable for the UK to consider very carefully any move towards legalising the use of marijuana. Public authorities would need to think about advice for motorists and any legislation that might be required in the event of any landmark changes.