If you smoke marijuana and get behind the wheel of a car, you could be accused of driving under the influence. Does marijuana actually increase the risk of a motor vehicle crash, though? Research is mixed, which makes some people question how dangerous marijuana really is.
With more states making marijuana legal, many are concerned that marijuana-related traffic accidents will increase. Opponents of marijuana legislation believe that relaxing the laws surrounding marijuana will put people in danger. What does the research say?
Results are mixed. Alcohol definitely does increase the risk of crashes, which everyone can clearly see. However, the use of marijuana doesn't affect everyone equally. That could be why it's not clear if it's dangerous to drive when using it or not. Still, the results are clear enough to suggest that it's not a good idea to get behind the wheel while using the drug.
Eight states legalized the use of recreational marijuana as of July 2017. A total of 29 allow the medical use of marijuana. That has led to an increase in the number of people tested and coming up positive for the drug following traffic stops and accidents. Since 2007, the number of people testing positive has risen by 4 percent, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Overall, it's a good idea to stay sober and off drugs if you plan to get behind the wheel. Even if a drug or drink is legal, you can still face charges if you get into an accident as a result of intoxication. If you're impacted as a result of someone smoking weed before driving, he or she still may be held liable for his or her actions.
Source: Healthline, "Does Marijuana Increase the Risk of Vehicle Crashes?," Shawn Radcliffe, June 27, 2017