The plant that has been legalized and causing so much controversy in many states is now being a hot topic in many group meetings.
Recently, the Roanoke Prevention Alliance posed questions regarding whether marijuana should now be legalized due to the negative impact it is already having in other states.
Their two main questions were “Is now the right time?” and “Is Virginia Ready?”
They based their questions on factual findings of marijuana:
- Four legalized states reported crashes increased six percent compared to non-legalized neighboring states
- Marijuana impairs driver’s reaction times and judgment
- Car insurance premiums went up
- No roadside tests available for law enforcement
- More tools and training are required to detect impaired driving from marijuana use
- 60 percent of regular marijuana users, in legalized states, report they drive whether they feel impaired or not
- $200 was the average increase in Colorado in auto insurance premiums (Averaged a 10 percent increase the year marijuana was legalized and averaged 16 percent increase the next year.)
- A 1991 marijuana study found effects on piloting tasks in a flight simulator even 24-hours after using a moderate social dose of marijuana
- AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reported and “estimated 14.8 million drivers getting behind the wheel within one-hour after using marijuana in the past 30 days”
They also noted that Colorado, Nevada, Oregon and Washington all had a six percent increase in crashes.
Colorado, Oregon and Washington had a combined increase of 5.2 percent “rate in crashes per million vehicle registrations, compared with neighboring states without legalized pot sales.”
In California, where marijuana was legalized in 2016, there was a 60 percent increase in transportation and warehouse applicants testing positive for marijuana in 2017 versus 2015. Their major concern was safety.
“States exploring legalizing marijuana should consider this effect on highway safety,” has now become a common thread of knowledge.
Rhode Island reported a conservative estimate of the costs of marijuana to outweigh revenues by 25 percent with leading causes being workplace injuries, absenteeism and impaired driving.
They shared that with the legalization, industrial accidents are reportedly up 155 percent, disciplinary action up 155 percent, absenteeism is up 178 percent and marijuana-related injuries are up 185 percent in the workplace.
In a study, drivers were asked, “How do you currently opt to drive after using marijuana?”
- 40.9 percent – I never allow myself to drive after consuming marijuana
- 17.1 percent – I try not to drive under the influence of marijuana but I do sometimes
- 15.4 percent – I choose whether or when to drive under the influence of marijuana based on how I am feeling at the time
- 14.3 percent – I drive under the influence of marijuana and do not think it has any negative impact on my driving performance
- Weed was five percent to 25 percent THC but now is 20 percent to 95 percent THC findings are: “There is absolutely no research that indicates this level of THC is beneficial for any medical condition. The purpose of these products is to produce a high, and the increased potency makes them potentially more dangerous and more likely to result in addiction.”
One person shared, “My (ex) smoked. I would have to get this person’s attention many times while this individual drove as this person would zone out and be driving on the opposite side of the road, while holding tight to the pipe.”
Another person shared, “My friend would smoke for hours at a time, watching cartoons, while imagining I said things I never even thought. This person lived in their own little world most of the time, and many times, imagining things that never happened or people never said. It was really sad.”
With the impact of COVID-19 having on the lives of people, many look for a “high” to help overcome their depression, loneliness or lack of drive. It’s been said that marijuana can provide just that.
If marijuana is legalized, this “easy access” could only become another avenue for people to try and escape their realities, causing harm to others, and maybe even death in accidents.
It has also been noted that some parents have been known to “forget about their child” in situations when under the influence of marijuana.
Many feel Virginia needs to look at the long-term negative effect it will have on the state, especially during these pandemic times when people are already suffering enough.
Taxes on sales are a big “positive” that is pulling at the strings of some for Virginia, while many sales establishments know that they will also benefit from the legalization. However, many states have already realized that the monetary benefits have been extremely slim compared to the rise in accidents and insurance.
“This is the Roanoke Prevention Alliance’s efforts to help educate key stakeholders about the importance of protecting our youth from accessing marijuana,” Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare Division Director of Prevention and Wellness Susan Rieves-Austin said. “Through research, we know if it is difficult for youth to access alcohol and other drugs, they are less likely to use them.”
She also noted that information shows that marijuana is favored to be used in the workplace because it is easy to conceal and has no odor when it is vaped. This can also be true for youth when choosing to use marijuana.
However, there is a concern, of not wanting kids to have more easy access than they already do, to a drug that could hinder their productive futures and maybe even their lives.