This November, Massachusetts’ voters approved a ballot measure that legalized marijuana for medical use.
The legalization of medical marijuana means that dispensaries can be opened throughout the state. In fact, up to 35 dispensaries can be opened. This has officials in many parts of Massachusetts worried about whether dispensaries will open in their area. NECN, for example, recently reported on the concerns that Worcester, Massachusetts leaders were expressing over whether a dispensary would open in their city.
As medical marijuana dispensaries open throughout the state, our Boston drunk driving accident lawyers urge Massachusetts residents to be aware of the new potential risks presented by legalized medical marijuana. One major concern is that more drivers will drive after having smoked marijuana since the drug is now legal for medical use.
How Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Will Impact Drugged Driving Laws
According to NECN, the primary concern for Worcester Massachusetts’ leaders is the lack of certainty about how new dispensaries will operate. City leaders are uncertain about who will be receiving medical marijuana and how it will be distributed. Officials are also concerned that the Massachusetts laws on medical marijuana conflict with the federal marijuana laws. This fact compounds the uncertainty about how law enforcement will interact with the dispensaries and with those who have a prescription for medical marijuana.
Since marijuana has been approved for medical purposes, city leaders believe that it should be dispensed to individuals who have a prescription from a doctor. The problem, however, is that doctors have not been trained on exactly how and when to prescribe marijuana since it has not been legal in Massachusetts for medicinal use. Further, the role of law enforcement is not clear–will law enforcement be enforcing the law to make sure that marijuana is used only for medicinal reasons and how will they be enforcing this? These questions are among those being raised.
Some of the most important questions, however, will revolve around how the legalization of medical marijuana will impact the number of drug-related car accidents. Drugged driving is illegal, but as we discussed in our blog Drugged Driving Presents Increasing Concern For Law Enforcement, enforcing drugged driving laws is difficult because of the lack of testing for drugged drivers and the lack of clear standards for when a driver is over-the-limit as far as drug use.
Protecting Yourself From Drugged Drivers
Until clear standards are in place for how medical marijuana will be regulated and how law enforcement will enforce drugged driving laws, residents of Massachusetts need to be cautious of the potential dangers raised by medical marijuana.
Of course, every driver should make a commitment to refrain from driving after smoking or consuming any marijuana products in order to avoid the risk of causing an accident. Drivers should also be aware that there is an increased chance of drivers on the road being impaired by drugs — especially in areas near marijuana dispensaries. Keeping track of where and when dispensaries open and being vigilant for signs of erratic driving behavior on the road are both ways that you can protect yourself from becoming involved in a drugged driving accident.
If you or someone in your family has been involved in a drunk driving crash, call the Law Office of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 1-888-367-2900.
Massachusetts DUI Accidents a November-December Risk, Boston Drunk Driving Accident Lawyer Blog, November 3, 2012
Drunk Driving Car Accidents in Boston and Elsewhere Targeted with New Legislation, July 12, 2012