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.
Originally published: The Marijuana Times
We all know that college is a time to experiment – it’s likely the first time away from home, with no one telling you what to do, when to go to bed or to wait until you’ve had dinner before digging into dessert. Apparently, it is now also the place young adults are most likely to try cannabis for the first time – in fact, those who are enrolled in college are twice as likely as their non-student peers to try cannabis at all.
“College is a time when there’s no parental supervision, there’s lots of free time, there’s often a party culture, and so these things can promote experimentation with drugs,”
said Richard Miech, the study’s lead author.
Roughly 1 in 10 people ages 19-22 who are working and living on their own are first-time cannabis users, whereas roughly 1 in 5 people (double) who are attending classes in that same age group were likely to give it a try. Whether this is because there is more opportunity while being a student (parties are plentiful and it’s become a popular way for people to self-medicate for general anxiety, and college is certainly a stressful time for anyone), or because young adults in college are more likely to indulge in recreational activities like smoking marijuana and drinking is unclear.
“I think what’s happening is that people are beginning to see marijuana more like alcohol – that it’s something you can do recreationally and that there’s not much immediate harm from it,”
What is clear, however, is the fact that more and more young people are seeing cannabis as socially acceptable – and consider recreational use to be something as normal as drinking. It also appears that the more honest views on cannabis (legal states especially are leaning towards the truth rather than scare tactics to keep teens from using cannabis) could be contributing to this trend, as well as the significantly lower number of high school students using marijuana.
Executive vice president of research and external relations for the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, Sean Clarkin said,
“What I’m tempted to infer from this is that what may be happening is that kids are starting marijuana use later, holding off until college experimentation that might have taken place in high school during previous decades.”
The study took a look over the last few decades, from 1977 until 2015 – but the most significant jump in first-time cannabis use for college students has been in the past few years. In 2013, just four years ago, only 31% of college students reported first-time marijuana use, in 2014 that increased by 10%, and in 2015 it jumped another 10% – ending with 51% of students reporting trying cannabis fro the first time. With more and more states moving towards more sensible cannabis policies, we’re likely to see this sort of trend continue.
Originally published: The Marijuana Times