Delaware attorney Ben Schwartz talks about the effects of smoking marijuana while driving. He discusses how smoking while high affects your driving.
Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz,
Today we are going to discuss the topic of smoking marijuana and driving. You know back in 2011, I think it was 2011, I wrote a blog article on driving while high. I think it was called drunk driving versus high driving, should we all toke up? Essentially in the article, I talked about an article that was on slate.com, that basically said that studies have shown that when people consume a moderate amount of marijuana, they actually exhibit safer driving behaviors. Most likely because they realize that they have some mild amount of impairment and they overcompensate by being more careful. But if you give someone a moderate amount of alcohol, essentially they think they are superman or superwoman and then they are more dangerous.
So I did this article, you know however many years ago, seven years ago talking about, “is it really an issue smoking marijuana and driving?” Since I did that article, many states have moved to legalize pot. One of the things that people contact me about when they read that old article on the blog, one of the things that people contact me about is, “they say to me, don’t you think it is a little bit irresponsible to encourage people to smoke marijuana and drive a vehicle?” I am not encouraging anyone to smoke marijuana or drive a vehicle or smoke marijuana while driving a vehicle. I am just saying in that article that I think that perhaps some people may actually be safer if they think they are under some sort of impairment. Maybe they have a little paranoia and so they are going to take steps to be more cognizant and more aware of their surroundings. They are going to take steps to be more careful.
Now I’ve got someone who has contacted me and said, “look you know now that states are legalizing pot, it’s making things less safe.” And, I do have to say, in my law firm the other attorneys and I have definitely seen an increase in the number of automobile accident cases involving personal injuries where the at-fault driver did something stupid. They may have been high; there’s no doubt about that. There is a USA Today article that was sent to me, it just came out I think today, and in the title are states with legal marijuana, see a rise in car crashes studies find.
So, this article is essentially summarizing two studies one was presented at a combating alcohol and drug-impaired driving summit that appears was hosted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute and this study focused on collision claims from 2012 to 2017 and compared the number of collision claims in states where marijuana has been legalized with the number of collision claims in states where it remains illegal and then another study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety looked at police-reported crashes before and after retail marijuana was allowed in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington and saw a 5.2% increase in the rate Today article, there are studies actually showing that in states where marijuana has been legalized, there is a statistically significant increase in the number of car crashes and so you know when I wrote that article back in 2011 about marijuana making people potentially be safer driver, I got a bunch of emails and comments from people who are saying that’s ridiculous. If you legalize marijuana, it’s going to make the roads even more dangerous than they already are and now guess what? Here we have a USA Today report article that summarizes two reports that seem to suggest in those states where marijuana has been legalized, you know the number of crashes is going up.
So, I am interested to know what you think. Do you think that you know, marijuana is legalized marijuana being more socially acceptable in this day and age than it was say 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, do you think that is making the roadways more dangerous and increases the likelihood of automobile collisions an injuries and death cases? Or, do you think that this USA Today article does not hold water and that marijuana makes people safer drivers? It is not something that state legislators ought to be looking at in determining whether they are going to legalize marijuana or keep it illegal.
I am interested to know what you think. Again, as I said, I am not here advocating using marijuana. I’m not advocating driving and I’m certainly not advocating using marijuana while you are driving so don’t send me a bunch of hate mail over the internet about how I’m telling people to go smoke weed and get high. You know, read the article on USA Today, we will link it in the show notes and read my article back from 2011 about toking up so that you understand what I am actually asking. Give us a comment and let me know what your thoughts are. I am interested to know which one is going to make us safer or is it going to increase the number of crashes. I am Attorney Ben Schwartz; hope you found this question to be something interesting and educational.
I think it is something that is definitely timely with what is going on in the United States nationally in terms of marijuana. You know, advocates are trying to get states to legalize pot. It definitely is timely and it is something that is sort of near and dear to my heart, not because I have any real interest in smoking marijuana but because I have a car accident personal injury, and wrongful death practice and if I can minimize, if I can do anything to minimize the number of accidents that we see, I’d be happy to go do something else, like draft wills.
Anyways, I am Attorney Ben Schwartz, let me know what you think. Thanks for watching!