Yesterday, Canada became the second country in the world to nationally legalize recreational adult-use cannabis. Legalized cannabis is sprouting up all over North America this year, but so is under-the-influence car crashes.
Legalized Cannabis to Blame for Increased Crashes?
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just released a new report that indicates there has been an increase of up to six percent in the number of highway crashes in the four states where recreational cannabis has been legalized.
The new report does not prove that there's a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana, but it does raise caution flags. In the US, there are now 30 states that have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and nine states, plus the District of Columbia, has legalized recreational use.
The report explained that "the studies looked at police reports and insurance claims, finding crashes rose between 5.2 percent and 6 percent in states with legalized recreational marijuana compared to neighboring states where such use remained illegal."
Another troubling IIHS street-side study showed that those under the influence of alcohol driving tend to either be alone or with other adults, but 14 percent of those busted driving under the influence of marijuana have had children in the vehicle.
There are definite limits as to what these studies show, but there is a growing correlation that the public must be made aware of, regardless of potential drug company lobbying.
Driving Under the Influence in Canada—A Trend?
Before cannabis was legalized in Canada, the CAA South Central Ontario released a new research study showing that 1.9 million Ontario motorists have been busted driving under the influence of marijuana. Over 735,000 of these cases has happened in the last three months.
"Road safety needs to be prioritized as a leading issue as cannabis becomes legal in the coming weeks, but it's clear that the focus can't solely be on cannabis-impaired driving," said Elliott Silverstein, manager and government relations for the CAA SCO. "We need to take an integrated view of the dangerous behaviours that impact road safety in Ontario and focus public education and enforcement efforts accordingly."
Yesterday, an hour after recreational marijuana became legal in Canada, Winnipeg police handed out a $672 ticket for consuming pot in a car. While enforcement is important, education is also important. Consuming cannabis, like alcohol, in your car is illegal across Canada.
While the transportation of marijuana in your vehicle may vary from province to province, consuming cannabis in a vehicle is absolutely illegal regardless of the newly legalized cannabis laws. Officers now have breathalyzers to indicate THC amounts.
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