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Marijuana-related fatal car accident rates are spiking

Numerous states have now legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. Both Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational uses, provided that consumers only possess a certain amount at a time and adhere to other restrictions. Many states do not explicitly prohibit the use of marijuana before getting behind the wheel. However, no state permits drivers to drive while impaired (DWI), no matter what substance has led to a driver’s impairment.

Perhaps because an increasing number of states are legalizing marijuana for various purposes, it seems that more and more people are choosing to get behind the wheel after using marijuana. Just like alcohol, if one has used very little or has waited a long time before driving after using marijuana, it is possible that the individual will be able to drive without a level of the drug in his or her bloodstream to cause impairment. However, it is imperative that marijuana users make sure that they are truly sober before driving, even under these circumstances.

According to a new report authored by experts from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, the number of fatal car accidents involving drivers who test positive for marijuana use has tripled over the last ten years.

As one of the study’s co-authors recently explained, “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana. If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving."

Marijuana may be increasingly treated as a legal substance. But just because this drug is legal does not mean that you are safe to drive after using it. Treat drugged driving as you would drunk driving, because ultimately it is just as serious and dangerous of a choice to make.

Source: WTVG-13, "Fatal car crashes involving pot use have tripled in U.S.," Dennie Thompson, Feb. 4, 2014

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