One of the biggest concerns with legalizing recreational marijuana was that it would have a negative impact on society’s most vulnerable – children. Critics feared that it would increase the usage rates of recreational marijuana among young adults. While studies have shown that the numbers of young adults using recreational marijuana have stayed relatively unchanged since legalization occurred, that does not mean that young adults are not still vulnerable to dangerous situations involving marijuana. For instance, Denver’s CBS-4 recently reported that a study conducted by Colorado State University indicates that teens are more likely to get into a vehicle with a driver under the influence of marijuana than they are to drive with someone who is under the influence of alcohol.
According to the study, 29% of young adults surveyed, all of whom were one or two years out of high school, had driven with someone under the influence of drugs like marijuana at least once in the last year. This was compared to 20% of individuals who said that they had driven with someone under the influence of alcohol at least once in the last year.
While the numbers could indicate worse, they still present a major concern. Researchers believe that engaging in risky behavior, such as driving with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, could lead to even more risky behavior like engaging in those activities personally. That poses a risk of perpetuating a problem that is an increasing concern for everyone on the road, especially in light of serious national concerns related to the opioid epidemic.
As recreational marijuana patterns have evolved, so has the state’s response to emerging problems. “The Cannabis Conversation,” a new campaign from the state, aims at figuring out what people’s attitudes are when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana so that the state can better address the dangers that doing so presents to everyone on the road. The program involves surveys and a public awareness campaign that is designed to help people understand more about how marijuana can impact a person’s ability to operate a vehicle and how that effect can pose a serious risk of injury or death to the driver as well as others on the road.
One of the individuals responsible for the underlying study pointed out that it is important for parents to continue to act as role models for their children by choosing not to abuse dangerous substances and not to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. He points out that most people are aware of the dangers of drinking and driving because the country as a whole has put a great deal of effort into combatting the issue. However, less attention has been paid to driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs, which may need to change. The state agrees and is continuing to develop programs like The Cannabis Conversation in order to spread important awareness.
A Lawyer’s Role
While there may be many misconceptions about the results of legalizing recreational marijuana, there should be no confusion in remembering that driving under the influence of marijuana is illegal. No matter how well an individual believes he or she can perform under the influence of marijuana, the state takes a serious approach to keeping high drivers off the road. If you have been charged with driving under the influence of drugs such as marijuana, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney could be an important part of facing those charges. Contact the criminal defense team at Tiftickjian Law Firm to schedule a consultation and find out more about the options that might be available to you in your specific circumstances.
(image courtesy of Daniele Levis Pelusi)