As Floridians consider a ballot measure this November to legalize medical marijuana, as some states legalize marijuana for recreational use, concerns about stoned driving are mounting. Drivers who operate their vehicles while under the influence of marijuana can present a hazard on the road. Unfortunately, regulating stoned driving is an inexact science and states are having difficulty crafting laws that work effectively to keep unsafe motorists off the roads.
Personal injury lawyers in West Palm Beach know that marijuana users have delayed reaction time and impaired judgment that can increase the likelihood of a collision. Finding a way to keep people from driving stoned needs to be a top policy goal to protect motorists and pedestrians, especially if Florida’s ballot measure passes. Drivers also need to understand the dangers of driving while stoned before they use medical or recreational cannabis.
Stoned Driving Problems Plague Marijuana Legalization Movement
The ABA Journal indicates that it is “imperfect science” to craft laws for stoned driving. In Colorado and Washington where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use, someone is considered to be driving while impaired if he has more than 5 nanograms of active THC in his blood stream. In Oregon where marijuana legalization is on the ballot, however, there is no THC limit as part of the proposed legalization and law enforcement officers are given discretion to determine if a motorist is too stoned to drive.
There is criticism about the use of THC levels to determine if someone is impaired. A study conducted in Britain found that levels of THC peak around 10 minutes after someone has smoked cannabis, but users experience the highest levels of euphoria around half an hour after consuming the drug. Further, a forensic lab expert has indicated that the THC concentration in the blood does not directly correlate to the effects of marijuana, and scientists haven’t actually established a connection between the levels of THC in the blood and the levels of driving impairment.
While we may not know exactly what THC level makes someone too stoned to drive, the FDL Reporter does have some facts that have been established about marijuana use. For example:
- Marijuana users are able to successfully complete simply tasks but brain imaging studies show that they must use more of their brain to do those tasks while stoned as compared with when they are sober.
- Marijuana users are not as able to multi-task as someone who has not consumed cannabis.
- Reaction times are slower for someone who has used cannabis.
- The peripheral vision of someone who has used marijuana is decreased.
- After the legalization of marijuana in Washington, nearly 25 percent more motorists tested positive for the drug as compared with before legalization.
- The share of drivers involved in deadly motorcycle accidents in Colorado who tested positive for THC more than doubled between 1994 and 2011.
It is clear that marijuana users are less equipped to respond if something sudden happens on the road, like a pedestrian stepping in front of the car. These drivers present a danger to themselves and to others and states need to find a way to effectively regulate stoned driving.
Accident lawyers in West Palm Beach, FL can help injury victims. Call Gonzalez & Cartwright, P.A. today at 800-608-2965 to schedule a free consultation.