New data out of the state of Colorado shows that the number of marijuana DUIs dropped 33% when you compare the first 3 months of this year to the first 3 months of 2016. Of course, when voters in Colorado approved marijuana legalization some 4 ½ years ago, we were told by those who opposed that decision that Colorado roads would be clogged with stoned drivers wreaking havoc. It turns out that those predictions were a bit off.
And the numbers we are talking about are incredibly small. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), from January to March of 2017 there were 155 people cited for “marijuana-use-only” impairment while driving, compared to the 232 cited from January to March of 2016. Keep in mind that hundreds of thousands of people take to Colorado roads every single day.
And while this would seem like good news, some people are still worried. “We’re still troubled by the fact that marijuana users are still telling us they routinely drive high,” CDOT spokesman Sam Cole said. “We’re pleased with the awareness, but we’re not so pleased with the behaviors that are actually happening.”
It seems a study conducted by CDOT showed that 55% of respondents said they felt it was safe to drive under the influence of marijuana. But according to this new data, either less people are driving while under the influence of marijuana or those 55% are correct that the danger in minimal, especially when compared to alcohol.
Colorado law enforcement has never been more aware and on the lookout for “stoned” drivers than they are in the era of legalization. So either less people on the road are high, or marijuana users are driving well enough not to be noticed. In fact, since marijuana can stay in a user’s system for weeks after use, the number of DUI citations that actually caught someone under the influence of marijuana at the time is probably even lower.
This is not to say that I think you should burn down a blunt and get in your car for a drive; it just highlights that the doom-and-gloom predictions of prohibitionists are – once again – completely wrong.
“Are the citations going down? Yeah, but is the number of people using marijuana and then driving going down? I don’t know how to quantify that,” said Nate Reid , a CSP (Colorado State Patrol) spokesman.
But if police are more alert to the issue and citations are going down, doesn’t logic dictate that less are using marijuana and driving? Or, again, are those that do just driving well enough not to be noticed?
Either way, “stoned driving” can be wiped off the board once and for all as a fear for those in states looking to legalize.