California Highway Patrol worried about possible increase in crashes due to marijuana legalization

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Recreational marijuana will become legal in California at the start of 2018. As more people have access to cannabis, the California Highway Patrol warns there is an increased risk of pot-impaired drivers on the road. (KGO-TV)

Recreational marijuana will become legal in California at the start of 2018. As more people have access to cannabis, the California Highway Patrol warns there is an increased risk of pot-impaired drivers on the road.

"You can look at the states that have legalized it and they've seen an uptick in collisions and fatal collisions, so it's definitely a concern for us," said CHP Officer Jonathan Sloat.

Despite that evidence, a new poll shows just 40 percent of Americans believe pot contributes to more crashes. Officer Sloat said public perception has to change because the effects of marijuana are obvious. "What we see behind the wheel is the same thing we see with alcohol.
We see an inability to maintain your lane, maintain a consistent speed. Slow reaction time," added Officer Sloat.

With alcohol, a 0.08 blood alcohol content is the legal basis to presume someone is intoxicated. However, there is not a clear legal standard for impairment with marijuana yet. Instead of passing a Breathalizer, the CHP will look for a driver's ability to pass field sobriety tests.

Officer Sloat suggests one simple rule: "If you're going to be smoking, don't jump behind the wheel, give it some time."

Or, arrange a different ride home.

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