Just two days before Thanksgiving, Massachusetts became the fifth state to open store doors — two, in fact — for the sale of legalized recreational marijuana.
The stores, which are located in Leicester and Northampton, each feature a wide selection of marijuana products available for purchase, including pre-filled oil vape cartridges, flowers, joints, edibles, and pot concentrates. Hundreds of customers waited in line for hours, and the two stores sold a combined total of over $440,000 worth of products on opening day alone.
While public response has been overwhelmingly positive, based on the roaring success of opening day, some have voiced concerns that car accidents will increase as a result of more people driving high.
There is some validity to this concern; recent research completed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) discovered that car crash rates in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington — all of which have legalized recreational marijuana — have increased by up to six percent since the legalization occurred.
One contributing factor to this possibility is that, unlike the breathalyzer test used to detect drunk drivers, there is no test that allows officers to definitively determine whether or not a driver is high on marijuana. This makes it difficult for police officers to discover and charge drivers who are under the influence of marijuana.
In addition to that, there is currently no law in place that requires drivers to submit to a drug test if officers believe that they are high from marijuana. In an attempt to counter these deficits, police forces are implementing training programs to teach officers how to detect signs of marijuana intoxication.
What’s more, individuals who are high on marijuana have the tendency overestimate their ability to drive — some actually may believe they become better drivers when they are high. Research definitively contradicts this, indicating that marijuana slows down people’s reaction time and ability to make quick-decisions, which often becomes necessary on the road.
Hopefully in the future, there are more accurate ways for officers to identify a high driver. For now, however, it is up to civilians understand the risks of driving high and consider the potentially life-threatening consequences of their actions before getting behind the wheel.
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