A marijuana legalization bill recently received approval from a committee at the Connecticut General Assembly. Now, the legislature’s Appropriations Committee is reviewing the measure and considering how to tax recreational use of the drug.
While proponents of recreational pot eagerly await legalization, not everyone looks forward to it. Among opponents are police organizations concerned about impaired driving.
So, while legalization supporters may celebrate a potential victory by lighting up on Saturday, not everyone will rejoice on the unofficial pot holiday.
Certainly, police will be on the look-out for impaired drivers.
States with Marijuana Legalization See Accident Increases
Our friends at the Claims Journal report that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that auto accident claims increased in both Colorado and Washington state after recreational marijuana use became legal. Neighboring Oregon also saw an increase in accidents claims.
IIHS also found that the three states showed a 5.2% increase in the crash rate per one million registered vehicles after legalization. This was compared to crash rates in states without pot legalization.
The University of Connecticut reports that, similar to alcohol, cannabis alters perception and psychomotor performance. This could contribute to an increased risk for car crashes.
However, 50% of Colorado residents who use weed believed they could drive safely under the influence. This may be disproved by statistics.
In fact, Colorado saw a 90% increase in the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents who tested positive for the presence of pot in their blood between in 2013 and 2017.
In Illinois, the News-Gazette says police are against legalization because no reliable roadside test for pot exists. Breathalyzers now used to detect alcohol impairment in drivers cannot detect cannabis. Police must wait for blood and urine tests to show the presence of THC, the active ingredient in the intoxicating herb.
Another problematic aspect for those who smoke weed is that TCH can remain in the body for up to a month. It’s unknown if someone can smoke a joint one day and the next day still have enough THC in their system to impair driving.
As Connecticut contemplates recreational legalization, the legislature also is reviewing a bill to study ways to detect cannabis impairment in drivers. It is actively moving through the process.
Whatever happens, the Keating Agency will monitor the progress of pot legalization and any potential impact on you. For 50 years as your local, independent insurance agent, our focus has been, and remains, on your safety. That won’t change.