It’s a scientific fact that the cannabinoids found in marijuana are beneficial for treating multiple diseases and conditions. And progressive states like Michigan have jumped on the bandwagon to legalize its medical use. However, as more American states prepare for potential marijuana legislation–both medical and recreational, an upswing in drugged driving fatalities raises alarms nationwide. Drinking and driving still account for 30% of all road-related fatalities, but the increase in positive driver-related drug tests over the past decade is far more than a simple trend. But is medical marijuana really the culprit, and how can your Michigan auto accident attorney help if you’re hit by a drugged driver?
Is Marijuana Really to Blame?
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, ten million Americans admit to driving after taking some form of drug or mind-altering chemical. Cocaine was found as a factor in 10% of fatal accidents during 2015. Marijuana was found in the bloodstream of 40% of drivers and the main drug after alcohol in all types of accidents. But surprisingly, prescription medications were discovered in the bloodstream of almost 50% of drivers in fatal accidents. Some of the main prescriptions discovered were Vicodin, Codeine, OxyContin, Valium, and Xanax.
Often used for pain and anti-anxiety, prescription drugs are easy to obtain and even easier to abuse. Of course, marijuana is often easier for younger drivers to acquire, so both options can lead to deadly results behind the wheel. Michigan drugged driving accidents reached decade-high numbers in 2015. Wayne County experienced the most drugged driving accidents, followed by Oakland County and Macomb County in turn. So before assuming the worst can’t happen to you or someone you love, think again… because yes, it can.
How Do Drugs Affect Driving?
It’s hard to pinpoint how certain chemicals affect the brain while driving because substances are often mixed. Studies on marijuana usage have shown that the combination of marijuana and alcohol cause more loss of control on the road than either substance alone. However, 70% of drivers who failed a sobriety test after the legalization of marijuana in their state tested positive for THC instead of alcohol. Even though they may be legal for prescribed or recreational usage, prescriptions, pot, and alcohol affect the body in different ways. They should never be combined with each other or taken while operating any type of machinery including a vehicle.
The human brain isn’t completely formed until adulthood, so teenage drivers are especially endangered by the effects of modern strains. Therefore, it’s critical to control their access. Don’t let your teens use the, “But when you were our age…” cop out. Marijuana strains from 30 years ago contained well below 10 percent THC. Today strains often over 30% concentration. Studies have shown that chronic usage of marijuana in adolescence can significantly lower overall IQ and permanently stunt brain growth.
Each state has their own laws regarding alcohol and drug-related driving and nine states have a complete no tolerance stance on driving under the influence of marijuana. Michigan is among the non-tolerance nine. In fact, if you’re pulled over and found to be impaired by marijuana, expect a DUI charge just like you’d receive for drinking and driving. No matter how defensively you drive, you can only control what happens in your vehicle. However, if you or a loved one is involved in a drugged driving accident a call to your Michigan auto accident attorney can help prevent unexpected life interruptions and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.