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Drugged Driving in Massachusetts Following Legalization of Marijuana

Aside from everything else that happened in the November 8, 2016 election, voters in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have just voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the state, joining a handful of other states and the District of Columbia.  Clearly many people are excited about this, and there are also those who voted against it.

marijuanaRegardless of our feelings about marijuana, based upon what we have seen in other states, there is a decent chance that more people will be using marijuana than there were prior to legalization.  While this can provide a great deal of revenue for the Commonwealth, there is also a decent chance that people will be driving under the influence of marijuana. This will likely result in more drugged driving arrests and more car accidents caused by people who are under the influence of marijuana.  Again, this is based upon what we have seen in other states, such as Colorado.  While drugged driving may not be as serious a problem as those opponents to legalization have feared, to any victims of a drugged driving accident, this may be of little comfort.

As discussed in a recent news article from Boston.com, marijuana will be legal to possess and use for persons 21 and over just like alcohol. There are fairly liberal limits on the amount of marijuana a person is allowed to posses, and, unlike in some other jurisdictions, edible forms of marijuana such as those in baked goods and sauces will be legal in the Commonwealth.

As our Boston drugged driving accident lawyers can discuss, one of the reasons the police were so against legalization of marijuana is because it can be more difficult to prove that person is under the influence of marijuana than alcohol.  First, there is no breath test for marijuana.  While scientists are working on it, we are not there yet.

While police can subject the suspect to a urine test or blood test, it will only tell if the person has the metabolites for marijuana in his or her system. It will not show if a person has THC, which is the active ingredient in marijuana that gets people high.  In other words, you can tell from chemical testing if someone smoked in the last month, or even the last week with repeat testing and a levels check, but you cannot tell from chemical testing if someone was under the influence while they were driving.   With marijuana being legal, having evidence of it in your blood does not help secure a conviction following a Boston drugged driving car crash.

This does not mean that a person will not be convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana. However, it does mean that the officer will have to be more careful in recording all of the behavioral clues he or she observes.    It should also be noted that the standard of proof in a car accident lawsuit case is lower than in a criminal case which is beyond a reasonable doubt as opposed to by a preponderance of the evidence.  This means that, even if the drugged driver is found not guilty, you may still be able to win a car accident lawsuit.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Massachusetts just voted to legalize marijuana. Here’s what happens next., November 9, 2016, By Nik DeCosta-Klipa, Boston.com

More Blog Entries:

Report: Boston Named as Having Worst Drivers in US – Many Drunk Driving Accidents, July 21, 2016, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog