TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – New Jersey lawmakers are debating a bill to legalize marijuana, but some people worry the risks are too high and will increase car accidents and auto premiums.
New data shows the risk of car crashes is rising in states where pot is legal, reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
“This should be no surprise to anybody,” said Peter Brown of Parents Against Recreational Cannabis. “It also goes to show that what’s really driving this issue is money as opposed to what’s really important: quality of life issues.”
A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that after sales of legal recreational marijuana began, collision insurance claims in Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State were 6 percent higher than in nearby states where pot is still illegal.
They also found that 14 percent of people smoking pot had a child in their vehicle.
David Harkey, president of the Institute, said the numbers show the importance of informing the public about marijuana impairment, just like alcohol impairment.
“We do not want to add to that toll as a result of marijuana introduced as additional impairment tool,” he said.
New Jersey State Senator Nicohlas Scutari has been pushing the bill to legalize.
“They can get a study to come out anyway they want to,” said Scutari. “We’re going to do the necessary steps of safeguarding our roadways for intoxicated or inebriated drivers just as how we do now.”
Since there is not a good quick test for impairment yet, one of the major challenges moving forward is how the drug will be policed.
“We police it by having specially trained drug recognition expert officers, which we should already have more of already, but we’re going to continue to be diligent in getting more of those.”
One hour after pot was legal in Canada, Winnipeg police issued a ticket for consuming cannabis in a motor vehicle which carries with it a $672 fine.
Authorities posted the ticket on Twitter reminding people that while pot is legal, just like alcohol, consuming it in your vehicle is not.