By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
February 8, 2020
In what may qualify as the least surprising news of late, a new study shows that the number of fatal crashes involving marijuana users is on the rise in Washington State where the drug has been legalized. In fact, the share of drivers who, after a fatal crash, tested positive for THC – pot’s main psychoactive ingredient – has doubled since the law changed in December 2012.
“This study enabled us to review a full 10-years’ worth of data about the potential impact of marijuana on driving safety – and it raises significant concerns,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in a press release about the research. “Results from the analysis suggest that legalization of recreational use of marijuana may increase the rate of THC-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes.”
AAA says it opposes the legalization of recreational marijuana because of its risk to traffic safety and because it’s difficult to craft legislation that protects public safety and also treats drivers justly.
Recreational pot use is now legal in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Another 22 have legalized it for medical use, and the push continues elsewhere, especially along the presidential campaign trail.
Three days after the research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety was released, Bernie Sanders told the nation that legalizing marijuana in all 50 states would be among his first official acts if he makes it to the White House.
“We will move forward to expunge the records of those arrested for possession of marijuana,” he said at rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, ahead of that state’s much-ballyhooed political caucus. “And we will make certain that the legalized marijuana industry is not controlled by a handful of corporations but that those people—the African-American community, the Latino community, the Native American community—those people who have suffered the most will get help in order to make money through a legalized marijuana industry.”
South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also seeking the Democratic nomination for president, has said he would decriminalize all drug possession. And other Democrats eyeing the White House have made similar claims.
The Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, said politicians who promise to turn a blind eye to drug use or worse, promote it, as a way to win votes care little about the health and safety of those they are purporting to serve.
“These studies that show more and more fatal wrecks in areas where pot is legal are glossed over or outright ignored because many people erroneously believe it’s their right to get high, never mind how much it endangers those around them,” he said. “The politicians who are supporting legalization do worse. They would trade American’s birthright to have their life, liberty, and property protected by the government–for a mess of pottage–the promise of political power and a new revenue stream for their campaign coffers.”
“It’s no secret that marijuana use can inhibit concentration and slow reaction times. It also clouds judgment to the point that users are often convinced that they are perfectly fine to drive, despite the fact that people who drive high are up to twice as likely to be involved in a crash,” Creech added. “To be frank, anyone who thinks marijuana is harmless may be simply exhibiting one of the long-term effects of using the drug — impaired brain development.”
Creech said AAA is right to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana and take a hard stance against driving and any marijuana use.
“Simply put, if you’ve used marijuana, don’t drive,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “And if you plan to drive, don’t use marijuana.”