All across the state, users of marijuana are rejoicing. The reason for celebration? Governor Bruce Rauner recently signed a bill that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. In theory, this could be a positive thing: state funds spent on jailing low-level, nonviolent offenders decrease and fewer Illinois residents experience the long-term effects of a drug charge on their record. Yet, when you take a close, hard look at the trends in other states, the recent bill’s passing may carry an even heavier cost, particularly when it comes to auto accident deaths.
Traffic Fatalities Involving Marijuana Intoxication Are Increasing
Although Illinois drivers can still be convicted of a DUI for testing positive with five nanograms of THC per milliliter or more in their bloodstream, the decriminalization and outright legalization of the drug has led to a sharp increase in the number of traffic fatalities involving marijuana intoxication across the country. In fact, one study found that fatal crashes involving drivers with THC in their system tripled, going from 4.2 percent of deceased intoxicated drivers to 12.2 percent. Though still a far cry from the rates of drunken drivers, the increase suggests that marijuana intoxication could likely continue to increase as more and more states continue to legalize its use and decriminalize possession.