AAA: 2X more deadly crashes with legal marijuana

Posted at 9:41 AM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 12:48:38-04

Could the legalization of marijuana be contributing to deadly crashes?

Washington crash data analyzed by AAA suggests that deadly crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana doubled after the state legalized the drug.

Washington was one of the first states to legalize marijuana in 2012. From 2013 to 2014, deadly crashes involving drivers who recently used marijuana more than doubled from eight to 17 percent.

Data also suggests one in six drivers involved in deadly crashes in 2014 recently used marijuana.

Determining legal limits for marijuana is tricky because it affects everyone differently. AAA says the amount of THC in a person's blood stream can mean different side effects and levels of impairment for each user. Some states do have per se limits, though.

Right now, it is illegal to drive while impaired to the slightest degree in Arizona. If a driver has active or inactive THC in their blood, they could still be charged with impaired driving.

Arizona is one of more than a dozen states considering marijuana legalization this year.

"...This serves as an eye-opening case study for what states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug," said Linda Gorman, director of communications and public affairs for AAA Arizona, in a media release.