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Legalized Pot Fuels Increase in Drugged Driving


Now that 20 U.S. states have legalized medical marijuana and two have legalized it for recreational use, it’s clear that national marijuana reform is continually gaining steam. That being said, lawmakers may want to be wary before jumping on the legalization train.

According to a recent study, legalized recreational marijuana may lead to increased drugged driving, which could lead to more accidents and deaths. A report released by Columbia University and published in the American Journal of Epidemiology concluded that legal weed was detected in the bodies of dead drivers in 2010, three times more often than it was in 1999.

The article, published in late January, suggests that the relaxed atmosphere and attitude surrounding marijuana has led to more car accidents by people who are smoking and driving stoned.

However, the Columbia study is not without some flaws. First off, marijuana is known to stay in the human body for weeks after smoking it. Therefore, just because someone has marijuana present in their system, does not mean that they used it even in the past week or more. Secondly, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado, Oregon and Montana State University, showed that traffic fatalities in states with legalized marijuana decreased by as much as 11 percent during the first year of legalization, as well as a drop of 13 percent in drunk driving deaths.

These researchers theorized that drivers are opting for marijuana over alcohol. As a result, according to the theory, there are fewer overall traffic fatalities since booze is considered more of an “impairing agent.”

Still, it’s undeniable that non-alcoholic drugs are showing up in more and more traffic deaths, with dead drivers testing positive for non-alcoholic drugs 28.3 percent of the time in 2010, compared to 16.6 percent in 1999.

This could be especially important news in New Jersey, which legalized medical marijuana, and may be on the verge of legalizing it for recreational use. NJ Senator Mark Scutari, D-Union, is drafting a bill which would make the Garden State the third state in the country to end marijuana prohibition.

Scutari cited that legalizing the drug would rid the streets of drug dealers, generate untold and much needed tax-revenues, and free up law enforcement resources to focus on “more dangerous drugs,” such as prescription pills.

If you have been charged with a DUI or DWI in New Jersey, or any other alcohol or drugged driving related offense, the repercussions can be devasatting to your reputation, health and wallet. Contact the attorneys at Team Law by calling 1-800-TEAM-Law or 732-388-5454 today for a free consultation to obtain the legal counsel you need and deserve.

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