Home Emergency Medicine Marijuana-Linked Fatal MVAs Up in WA State After Legalization

Marijuana-Linked Fatal MVAs Up in WA State After Legalization

Experts say Washington state’s experience could be a lesson for rest of country

TUESDAY, May 10, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The number of fatal motor vehicle crashes involving marijuana more than doubled after Washington state legalized the sale of the drug, according to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Marijuana became legal in Washington in December 2012, researchers said. Between 2013 and 2014, the percentage of drivers in Washington involved in fatal car accidents after using marijuana rose from 8.3 to 17.0 percent. In 2014 alone, one in six drivers involved in a deadly crash had recently used the drug, researchers found.

At least 20 states are currently considering marijuana legalization, the researchers said. Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., have already legalized the recreational use of the drug. The drug has also been legalized for therapeutic and medicinal use in 20 states, researchers said.

Montana and Washington state have implemented a legal limit for marijuana at 5 ng/mL. In Colorado, a blood concentration of at least 5 ng/mL means it’s likely someone was driving under the influence of the drug. Meanwhile, Nevada and Ohio have set a limit at 2 ng/mL. Pennsylvania’s legal limit is lower at 1 ng/mL. Twelve states have strict legal limits that prohibit the presence of any levels of marijuana in drivers’ blood, the study authors said.

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