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AAA opposes marijuana legislation

January 30th, 2020 by WCBC Radio

A concerning number of Washington state drivers involved in fatal crashes are testing positive for recent use of marijuana, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. 

The share of drivers who, after a fatal crash, tested positive for active THC – the drug’s main psychoactive ingredient – has doubled since the state legalized marijuana in December 2012. AAA believes the increase raises important traffic safety concerns for drivers across the country, because recreational marijuana use is now legal in 11 states and Washington, D.C.

 

The latest AAA Foundation research found that between 2008 and 2012 – the five-year period before the drug was legal – an estimated 8.8% of Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes were positive for THC. That rate rose to 18% between 2013 and 2017.

 

The average number of THC-positive drivers increased, too. In the five years before legalization, an average of 56 drivers involved in fatal crashes each year were THC-positive. In the five years after legalization, the average jumped to 130. The new numbers bolster the findings of a similar report the AAA Foundation released in 2016. The study did not attempt to determine if marijuana contributed to the crashes included in its latest research. It focused only on the prevalence of drivers who tested positive for active THC. 

During last year’s Maryland General Assembly session, a bipartisan work group of legislators was created to study the legalization of marijuana in the state. While the work group met during the interim, the consensus was that it was premature to recommend legislation to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2020. The workgroup plans to continue studying and working through the remaining legalization issues for possible legalization consideration in Maryland next year.

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