It’s been about a year since California voters approved Proposition 64 and legalized the use of marijuana in the Golden State.
The Adult Use of Marijuana Act, as it is also known, allows people who are 21 years or older to possess small amounts of “weed” for their own personal use. Additionally, the law permits licensed businesses to sell the “pot” to customers.
Prior to Prop 64, Colorado and Washington were the first states to legalize pot for recreational use in 2012. Two years later, Oregon and Alaska did the same in 2014.
However, the controversial road to legalization began back in 1996. That’s when California became the first state to permitted the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana. Since that first step, some 23 states and Washington D.C. have legalized medical marijuana.
Another landmark step by some states such as California was to take away the criminality for individuals who were caught with one ounce or less of marijuana. The punishment was also reduced to an infraction.
Growing Marijuana Sales Impacts Traffic Safety
It’s certainly a different world in California post Prop 64
Pot is now a growing business. Legal U.S. pot sales soared to $5.4 billion for 2015 after Prop 64, up about 17.4 percent from $4.6 billion in 2014, according to data released this month by the ArcView Group. The company tracks sales in the cannabis markets.
The legalization of marijuana, however, has repercussions. It is already leaving an indelible impact on the roadway. One in five fatal crashes in the Golden State involved a driver who tested positive for drugs, according to the Auto Club.
“The problem extends beyond recreational marijuana and illegal drug usage -- many prescription drugs can impair skills that are critical to driving,'' said Kathy Sieck, senior vice president of public affairs for the Auto Club. “There’s already a problem with alcohol and driving,” said Attorney James Johnson. “Roughly a third of all fatal crashes involved a DUI driver. There will be collateral damage and impact on society.”
Indeed, roughly of all Americans have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetimes, according to 2012 survey by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Young Drugged Drivers The problem is, marijuana use among young inexperienced drivers is a huge threat to our roadways despite the fact that some proponents say marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol. The drug does cause reduced response time, impact judgement, cause drowsiness on these already inexperienced drivers. Oftentimes, young people will experiment and mix alcohol or prescription drugs with marijuana for an even deadlier impact.
The fact is there are a significant number of young people who admittedly are regular users of marijuana. Roughly 7 percent of adolescents age 12 to 17 years old are marijuana users and about 20 percent of those 18 to 25 years old are current users, according to results from the 2015 drug use national survey. That equates to nearly 2 million teens and nearly 7 million young people under the influence of marijuana.
Help for Victims of Drugged Drivers
The public debate about the use of marijuana and driving is likely to continue to play out in the public for a long time. Unless you are personally impacted by a tragedy linked to drugged driving, the impact of such actions may not be real. However, those families who have unwittingly paid the price due to a drugged driving collision are left to cope with the emotional and physical pain and suffering. Legal remedies, however, are available to help them recover financial losses.
Those of us at Johnson Attorneys Group know there is nothing more devastating than losing a loved one in a traffic accident due to a negligent drugged driver. If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in this type of collision, it's important to take immediate steps to protect your legal rights. Contact one of our qualified personal injury attorneys at 800-235-6801 to request a free consultation.