Legalizing marijuana sparks debate over safety on the roads

Posted: Updated:
YONKERS -

There's a growing concern that safety on the roads will be compromised if New York legalizes marijuana.

Chuck Farmer, of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, is one of many people who have researched the link between recreational use marijuana and car crashes.

"Tests have shown that people who have been using marijuana do have depleted skills in their driving," says Farmer.

Farmer says in states where there is legalized recreational marijuana, specifically Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Nevada, there was a 6 percent increase in crashes, as opposed to their neighboring states.

Famer and his team analyzed the number collision claims reported to insurance companies and police-reported crashes from 2012 to 2017 and believe, with other causal components in mind, that retail sale of marijuana may have been the cause for the growth.

According to a spokesperson from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office, the administration finds the positives of a regulated cannabis program outweigh the cons.

Jolene Forman, of the Drug Policy Alliance, says legalizing marijuana may make drivers safer. She says studies have shown marijuana has helped wean people off of stronger drugs.

"We shouldn't see suddenly huge changes just because marijuana has been legalized," says Forman.

The governor's office reports there are efforts in place to expand the monitoring and education risks along with the development of laws to be put in place.

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