As personal injury attorneys, we handle hundreds of cases related to a client being injured by someone driving under the influence. Most of the times these cases relate to the excessive use of alcohol, but sometimes other drugs are involved.
With what seems to be a national push toward marijuana legalization, we worry about the impact of legalizing a plant that is still considered a drug under federal law. Does driving under the influence of marijuana cause a hazard to those around you?
The District of Columbia and Pot Safety
D.C. drivers are all around us here in Baltimore. That’s a little worrisome because D.C. recently legalized recreational and medicinal pot, joining 28 states in some form of democratization of the drug. So does that mean that D.C. drivers are now more at risk for driving under the influence of marijuana? Does that matter? Does pot negatively affect your response time and judgment on the road?
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says: “Marijuana significantly impairs judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time, and studies have found a direct relationship between
blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.”
A National Institute of Health Study determined that “Acute cannabis intoxication is associated with a statistically significant increase in motor vehicle crash risk.”
Interestingly, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety publishes accident statistics and it appears that accidents have not gone up by an appreciable number since pot was made legal between the years 2014 and 2015. For example:
State with legalized pot: Did they have an accident increase?
But this is inconclusive because there is no evidence to correlate impaired driving, pot, and these accidents. In fact, the slight increase could be attributed to anything from distracted driving to wet pavement, which is typically major causes of accidents on our highways every year.
So, does the D.C. liberalization of pot affect the caliber of the driver on Maryland’s roads? The answer is that more research will need to be done.
Will Maryland Legalize?
While efforts to legalize pot in our state have failed over the last few years, some pundits say that Maryland is on track to legalize some form of marijuana usage in 2018. State lawmakers are considering a ballot measure to let voters decide how to handle the issue. The Baltimore Sun quoted a Montgomery County legislator who said legalizing pot is now mainstreamed. While national polls do seem to show that widespread acceptance of marijuana is high; an April Quinnipiac University national poll says 60% of Americans say the drug should now be legal. But that does not mean necessarily that Maryland votes will come out in favor of legalization. Time will tell on this issue, and by all reports, the time will likely be 2018.
Personal Injury and Auto Accidents
We believe that consuming any substance that impairs your ability to drive is a bad thing. If you or someone you love has been a victim of an impaired driver, contact us. Our firm is here to help you seek justice.