Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam signed the state’s recreational cannabis law on April 21st of this year. Virginians first started being able to possess small amounts of the once-regulated drug on July 1st.
The legalization bill passed through both of Virginia’s legislative bodies where it received a majority vote by April 7th. The bill then was placed on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature. Many lobbyists and advocacy groups spoke out against the bill as it worked its way through both chambers. They worried about the prospects of there being an uptick in cannabis-related crashes after the drug’s legalization.
Is that a real concern? If not, then what is?
Does recreational marijuana’s legalization cause an uptick in crashes?
There were at least 16 other states that had legalized marijuana before Virginia. One study on Colorado showed an uptick in fatal crashes following the drug’s recreational use legalization. A survey of Washington state accident rates pre and post-legalization shows that they didn’t change. Researchers still concluded that there would be an estimated 7,000 increase in annual fatalities attributable to recreational marijuana’s legalization nationwide.
Why it matters if marijuana’s legalization results in crashes
The training that police officers are receiving is ever-evolving. Street patrol officers and K-9 handlers learn a variety of tactics in the workshops that they attend. One topic they likely cover is how to spot potentially intoxicated motorists, whether the intoxication comes from alcohol or drugs (both legal and illegal).
Marijuana, even in small amounts, can significantly impact your fine motor skills, which can seriously affect your driving. What might have started innocently as an evening in which you let loose by lawfully smoking a little marijuana could result in a traffic stop that leads to criminal charges.
It’s wisest to never drive while impaired by any substance. If you make a mistake or are wrongfully accused, take the time to learn more about your defense options.