Marijuana leaf

Governor Northam and the Democratic-led General Assembly are pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana in anticipation of additional revenue pouring into Virginia’s tax coffers. But AAA has come out in opposition to such a move, saying traffic and road safety will decline and there will be more fatalities on Virginia’s roads. What caused AAA to take this position? Their researchers examined the traffic safety implications of marijuana legalization in Washington State and found an alarming increase in fatal crashes involving recent marijuana use. AAA research found:

• The percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 8 to 17 percent between 2013 and 2014.

• One in six Washington drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had recently used marijuana.

Marijuana has the potential to impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely. And AAA research found that in the past 30 days an estimated 14.8 million drivers reported getting behind the wheel of a vehicle within one hour after using marijuana.

As marijuana becomes more potent, these numbers will increase. And our law enforcement community is challenged because of its inability to measure a driver’s marijuana impairment accurately. There is no field sobriety test for marijuana.

It is time to hit the pause button on the recreational marijuana legislation until the full impacts on Virginia’s traveling public are identified.

Tim Stowe

Frederick County, Virginia

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