With new marijuana poised to take effect, people in Washington will soon be able to walk into shops and buy marijuana without a doctor’s prescription. But what does this historic legal change mean for the safety of Washington drivers? We take look at how marijuana usage can affects drivers and their safety.
A Historic New Law in Washington State
The new Washington law precludes people in Washington over 21 years of age from being arrested for having up to an ounce of marijuana on them. This includes comparable amounts of marijuana-infused products like “weed” brownies. This historic change was brought about by the passage of Initiative 502 “on marijuana reform” in Washington in November 2012.
Recreational use of marijuana is already legal in Washington. According to Washington State Patrol statistics, in the first six months of 2013, 745 drivers that were stopped by police tested positive for THC. THC is the main mind-altering ingredient found in the Cannabis plant. This compares to about 1,000 that tested positive for all of 2012. In Colorado, where marijuana sales are already legal, they have seen very strong regulated marijuana sales.
Marijuanas Effect on the Drivers
Marijuana usage causes dizziness, reduced reaction times, and impairs motor function. Marijuana’s effects share similarities with alcohol as drivers under the influence may swerve and drift. Drivers suspected of being under the influence can be subject a blood test of the amount of THC in their system.
The law voters approved in Washington contained a five nanograms per millimeter (ng/mL) limit of active THC in the blood. Any driver that tests above this limit can be cited with a DUI. For drivers under 21, the THC limit is 0 ng/mL.
Unlike alcohol, marijuana’s impact can vary significantly between users and stays in the body much longer. This makes it more challenging to implement a standardized threshold for impairment for law enforcement and the courts.
Driving While Drugged Accidents
Even if a person has a prescription for marijuana, this does not release a driver from their obligation to follow the rules of the road and be safe behind the wheel.
Time well tell whether how the new law will affected DUI and accident rates. No matter what intoxicant, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is dangerous that leads to too many senseless serious injuries and deaths on the roadways. If you or a loved one has been the victim of an accident caused by a driver under the influence, call us at 1-800-291-1821 for assistance.