All you have to do is drive down a street in Washington State and you can find legal cannabis facility. Since Washington passed Initiative 502 in November of 2012, they have been popping up everywhere. Since marijuana is so easily found and legally consumed, people have voiced concern about stoned drivers causing a jump in DUI rates. If you talk to Washington State police about it, they’ll tell you that’s just not true.
According to the Washington State Patrol, driving under the influence (DUI) rates have not increased since Initiative 502 was passed. John Schochet, Deputy City Attorney for Policy and Constituent Affairs from the Seattle City Attorney’s Office, was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying that legalization hasn’t increased DUI, but more people could be substituting cannabis for alcohol.
He’d also like to make it clear that cannabis legalization doesn’t mean that impaired driving was legalized in Washington State, and Initiative 502 actually made it easier to convict people who are driving stoned. That’s because it created a standard for determining cannabis impairment with regards to concentration of active THC in the blood stream, and having that regulation means prosecutor have a measuring stick they can use to charge drugged drivers. This change also helps law enforcement investigate someone they suspect of drugged driving, and they no longer have to prove a person was under the influence of drugs based on observations or field sobriety tests alone.
Just like with drinking and driving, people who decide to drive while under the influence of marijuana feel like they’re perfectly OK to get behind the wheel. Although Washington State hasn’t seen a huge jump in DUI since cannabis was legalized, to keep roads safe public perception needs to change. It might be legal in Washington to use cannabis, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe to drive while under the influence of anything.