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Study: using marijuana and driving is not as bad as you think

When we talked about DUIs on this blog, usually they are in reference to drunk driving. While this is the easiest way to think about DUIs, it obscures the fact that there are many people out there who get pulled over and arrested on DUI charges because they have been using drugs. In this regard, smoking marijuana and getting behind the wheel of a car has resulted in many people getting arrested for driving under the influence.

But a very interesting study -- backed by a federal agency -- found no link between the use of marijuana and the risk of a car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration performed the study, and while this is the startling discovery, it also found that someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 is four times as likely to cause a crash than a sober driver. Someone with a BAC of 0.15 is 12 times more likely to cause a crash than a sober driver.

Marijuana legalization has been a major topic for a long time now, though it has really gained steam in the past few years. Will this study be another major step? If marijuana doesn't pose a safety risk for drivers who use it, then why make it a major crime?

At the same time, let's assume the law doesn't change anytime soon and people will still get arrested for DUI when they smoke marijuana. They will inevitably be hit with some serious penalties. But doesn't that seem silly in light of this study? Could some refined -- and lessened -- penalties help the whole system?

Source: The Hill, "Feds: No link between pot and car crashes," Jesse Byrnes, Feb. 7, 2015

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