Would Marijuana Legalization Increase DUI Accidents?


2014 became a ground-breaking year for recreational marijuana. Colorado implemented new legislation that would make it no longer a crime to possess 1 oz or less of marijuana. You would think that with the influx of revenue and the reduction of crime regarding possession of marijuana, other states would follow suit and find that legalization is the answer. Wrong! Georgia is located in an area which most refer to as “The Bible Belt,” most suggest that a state that consists of over 10,000 churches and well-grounded in tradition and custom, will be the last in line for legalization or will they? Recently, State Representative Allen Peake proposed a new bill titled, “Haleigh’s Hope Act” or “House Bill 1” petitioning for medicinal marijuana use. The medical conditions that the legislation will permit the use of marijuana would be: epilepsy, cancer, and glaucoma. However, the use will be in a non-smoking form either liquid, pill, or injection. This is most likely a distinguishing characteristic for the State of Georgia, as well as, an effective compromise.

But just for a moment, let’s exist in a hypothetical world. What if the state of Georgia decided to allow recreational use of marijuana? We must consider all aspects such as, use by those under age, the amount permissible to possess, and whether its use will contribute to car related accidents. In 2013, Georgia’s Law Enforcement made over 25,000 DUI arrests where the influencing substance was alcohol. Over 25,000 lives were changed, whether those individuals were injured, caused the injury or death to another, or even went through the dreadful process of DUI litigation.

According to The Washington Post, there was a vigorous study that found that those who smoked marijuana were less likely to become involved in a crash compared to those who had ingested alcohol. The conclusion of the study, which was done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, found that marijuana smokers were just as cautious and careful as those who had not taken any drugs or consumed any alcohol. Additionally, they found that one is 7x more likely to cause an accident when drinking alcohol than they had they smoked marijuana. Of course there are competing schools of thought concerning the matter. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “marijuana slows the reaction time of the driver, impairs their judgment of time and distance, and decreases motor coordination.” It must further be noted that the NIDA has stated that more research must be done to determine if one’s ability to drive is truly affected and diminished.

Please keep in mind that this article was not written in order to influence or suggest that the use of any type of intoxicant is permissible while driving. This publication only proposes that one step back and acknowledge both viewpoints. Now that you know the facts, do the research! If you have found yourself trying navigate through the DUI process alone, allow the experienced attorneys at Angell Law Firm to work for you today!