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Changing Attitudes on Marijuana Use Could Lead to Increase in Drugged Driving

Attitudes about marijuana use have changed significantly in recent years. Washington State and Colorado both legalized recreational use of marijuana, while 20 states and D.C. now allow marijuana to be used for medicinal reasons. The Department of Justice has also shifted its attitude towards states that have legalized marijuana, indicating that the DOJ will now mostly leave it up to the states how they want to handle pot growers, sellers and smokers. roach-439288-m.jpg

Changing laws reflect a public that is much more accepting of the widespread use of marijuana for recreation. Pew Research polls show that 52 percent of Americans believe marijuana should be legal, and support extends to groups at both ends of the political spectrum with both liberals and libertarians expressing the belief that the government should not prohibit marijuana use. While this movement is gaining traction, however, Boston drunk driving lawyers know it is important to remember that it is still dangerous to drive while impaired by marijuana.

Drugged Driving Could Become a Concern As States Legalize Marijuana

The Monitoring the Future Project shows that lax attitudes towards marijuana use may already be having an impact on the number of drugged drivers on the road. As Science Daily reports, the Monitoring the Future Project involves collecting survey responses from 17,000 high school seniors each year. Data is then compared across the different annual studies to monitor trends in teen behaviors related to drug and alcohol use.

In the 2011 survey, there was a significant increase in the number of teens who admitted to either driving after using marijuana or to getting in the car with someone who had used marijuana. In 2011, 12 percent of young people said they had driven high, as compared to just 10 percent in 2008.

This trend among teens may be prompted by the fact that marijuana use is so much more accepted, and the increase in marijuana use may not be limited only to high schoolers either. Adults are clearly in favor of marijuana legalization and are putting their money behind the effort.

In Massachusetts, for example, those in favor of legalizing marijuana reportedly raised $1.2 million in support of a medical marijuana vote while opponents to the initiative raised just $6,000. Yahoo reports that Massachusetts may be one of the next states to put legalization for recreational marijuana use on the ballot and if this happens, it is likely that this initiative will get significant support. When and if recreational marijuana becomes legal, people of all ages may take advantage of their newfound right to use pot— and some are likely to drive impaired.

States that have already legalized marijuana are working to establish regulations that can reduce this type of risky behavior, but unfortunately drugged driving can be more difficult to police than drunk driving since drug tests show marijuana in the system for as long as 30 days after a person smokes. This makes it harder to show that a motorist was impaired at the time when he was driving, thus raising questions of what exactly the standard should be as far as providing evidence against drugged drivers.

As states work out their marijuana laws, however, motorists should remember that ultimately a focus on safety should be their guide. This means using marijuana if they want to and if it is legal to do so- but never using pot or any kind of drug before getting behind the wheel.

If you or a loved one was involved in a drunk driving accident in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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NFL Recruits MADD to Focus on Drunk Driving, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, September 10, 2013