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August 09, 2018, Massachusetts
Massachusetts is buzzing with the anticipation over the legalization of recreational marijuana. The state officials are well aware of the implications of adult-use legalization. For that matter, Massachusetts Police has launched awareness and educational campaign on driving sober with the support of a ride-sharing platform and marijuana advocates. The aim of the campaign is to persuade Massachusettsan drivers to promise to drive sober and keep reminding them about the risks of driving high and drunk.
According to Jennifer Queally, the Undersecretary of Massachusetts Office of Public Safety and Security, the state is setting up this awareness campaign by keeping in mind Colorado’s problem of intoxicated driving. Several studies have reported an uptick in the instances of stoned driving in the state.
Coloradan public safety and law enforcement officials also concur that they are facing the issue for quite some time. The state government has even carried out a public survey to find out the reasons why people tend to drive when they are high. It is worth mentioning that recreational use of cannabis has been legal in Colorado for more than six years.
It is, in fact, a common observation that many drivers who consume marijuana think they are better behind the wheel when they are high. However, this is not true. Being stoned while driving is not safe at all and put everyone on the road in danger.
Lyft has seen a business opportunity in the campaign against intoxicated driving. Therefore, the online ride-sharing platform has teamed up with the state’s police association and marijuana reform coalition and established a fund of $50,000 for people who will pledge to drive sober. $4.20 will be credited to the fare for anyone who pledges on their social media accounts to not get behind the wheel while high or drunk.
Stoned driving, like drunk driving, has become a cause for concern in many states. A large chunk of law enforcement resource has been used up to train police personnel to deal with drug-impaired driving. Meanwhile, businesses are trying to develop effective drug testing devices. This is another problem faced by law enforcement officials. They don’t have the right apparatus to test drivers for substances other than alcohol.
Nevertheless, when it comes to road safety, drunk driving is still the biggest issue for law enforcement officials all across the country. According to the statistics of CDC for the year 2016, 10,500 people lost their lives in alcohol-related car crashes. A more recent report from PEW shows that half of the deceased drivers who tested positive for drugs had more than one intoxicated substance in their system. Likewise, half of the drivers with alcohol in their systems also tested positive for other drugs.
In many cases, cannabis is one of the substances traced during autopsy along with alcohol and opioids. However, no data is available on the fatalities caused solely due to cannabis intoxication. Regardless of the unavailability of data on the subject, there is no doubt that stoned driving is a risky business.