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Will legalizing marijuana cause more car accidents in New Jersey?

Statistics show that in a nine-year span, 1816 people died in crashes caused by impaired drivers. That equates to more than 180 deaths each year on New Jersey roads. The on-going debate about the legalization of marijuana has many people voicing concerns that car accidents involving drivers under the influence of weed could skyrocket.

County governments are concerned over traffic safety, and one county in the state has voted against the legalization. Complications surrounding legalizing cannabis are that there is no legal limit for driving high on the drug, and there are no roadside tests for detection. It is not clear to what degree DUI and cannabis compare. New Jersey would have to implement new training procedures for officers to detect marijuana impairment. 

Several companies are developing tests for marijuana intoxication that could soon become standard. The test, similar to an alcohol breathalyzer, would detect trace amounts of marijuana on the driver's breath when he or she blows into the machine. Tetrahydrocannabinol or THC can only be detected within two to three hours after using it. States will need trained drug recognition experts to test drivers arrested for impaired driving until the test kits are available.

While lawmakers continue to debate marijuana legalization, traffic safety continues to be the main concern in New Jersey. It is important that people understand that driving high can have the same dangerous impact and cause just as many car accidents as drunk driving. Lawmakers are expected to introduce bills to the State Senate and in the Assembly in the next few weeks.

Source: nj.com, "Will legal weed make N.J. roads more dangerous?", Payton Guion and Larry Higgs, Feb. 2, 2018

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