The May 2019 edition of Consumer Reports quotes an October 2018 study which “found that in four states with legal recreational marijuana, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Washington, car crashes were up 6 percent compared with four neighboring states where recreational use was restricted.”

Based on registered vehicles as of 2017 (divided by the sq. mi. of each state) Nevada has 9.5 vehicles per square mile, Oregon has 16.1, Colorado has 17.2, Washington has 43.9 and Connecticut has 245.8. Now what do you think will be our increase in car crashes in Connecticut once the Hartford legislators legalize marijuana? With the extreme road congestion evident in our state, we’ll be lucky if we only see a 6 percent increase.

Craig Hoffman

I already share the congested Connecticut roads with DUI drivers, people driving with suspended licenses and/or no insurance, joyriders on the roads in stolen cars and others who shouldn’t be behind the wheel of any motor vehicle. I do not want to have to dodge anyone driving while under the influence of recreational marijuana, too!

Until a reliable test is developed to assess the negative influences of marijuana on the ability to safely operate machinery or drive a motor vehicle, the legislature would be wise to abandon this quest for yet more tax revenue unless they are willing to take personal responsibility for the injuries and deaths that will inevitably occur if recreational use of marijuana is legalized.

Are the Connecticut legislators ready, willing and able to endorse an accident rate increase of at least 6 percent just to get the long-sought tax revenue?

And speaking of the pot tax revenue, let’s consider this:

“When Colorado voters decided to legalize recreational marijuana starting in 2014, proponents said there would be a healthy side effect: It would kill the sale of illegal marijuana in Colorado. But a Rocky Mountain PBS investigation has found just the opposite happened. Legalization became a magnet for black market marijuana.”

Legalization and taxing the product will only create and expand the black market for it. Why would a marijuana user buy from a legal, taxed supplier when they can buy on the black market and avoid the tax? That’s plain and simple economics for the consumers.

And all this for a few extra tax dollars that our new governor and his legislative cronies can waste on more superfluous partisan projects or state worker pay and benefits? I strongly urge them to vote against any recreational marijuana proposals for the above reasons.

Craig Hoffman lives in Cheshire.

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25 Comments

  1. No one should drive a car while intoxicated on anything ever. That being said people in the United States have been driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription drugs and cannabis in ever increasing numbers since the mass produced automobile was invented. Alcohol and prescription drug intoxication are commonplace as the direct cause in a very large percentage of all fatal auto accidents. Over 16,000 traffic fatalities a year are directly attributable to alcohol intoxication and over 5,000 more to pharmaceutical drug intoxication. Both alcohol and prescription drugs are well known statistical serial killers both in driving and in life in general.

    All automobile accidents with fatalities require full spectrum blood toxicology for all the driver at fault. If cannabis use did cause large numbers of traffic incidents we would see it in the news and the statistical data but we don’t. To the best of my knowledge ( I have checked thoroughly), not a single police agency in the US even keeps a statistic for automobile fatalities caused “solely by cannabis intoxication”. Every police agency in the nation shows ever increasing numbers where alcohol and pharmaceuticals are cited for traffic deaths.

    I am completely against anyone driving intoxicated on anything and support severe penalties for intoxicated drivers, but the silly “OMG cannabis users are going to start driving and cause a rash of accidents” position is just more reefer madness nonsense and has absolutely no basis in actual crime statistics!

    Legalize, regulate and TAX recreational cannabis!

    1. You are citing accident fatalities, whereas the data I quoted only cites accidents – period. I did not argue that fatalities would increase, only the overall number of accidents on the roads. I personally know someone who has admitted to driving through red lights on several occasions after having had a joint or two back when it was way less potent than it is today.

      1. Every driver in a DUI class has traveled 100 other times when he didn’t get stopped.

  2. Since you are not a stoner. Let me give you the news .You are already sharing the road with the stoners. They drive up to Massachusetts from NY NJ PA and so forth .Trust me. I go too. They all cut through CT to to get to Massachusetts. Also. Why don’t you rail against alcohol and people on prescription drugs. They cause all kinds of road issues yet nothing against that. At least with us legalize it. We would get the money .Right now. We get the risk with no reward .Give me next reason for against legalization. I debunk any old tired reefer madness stuck in your 50’s or 60’s education you can’t get over .

  3. Another lie. The black market won’t expand .I used to use the black market. Since Massachusetts opened. Not once have gone to the black market .So 1 down from what you say is the expansion of black market .Here is why. Like every consumer .The legal market has provided options for us stoners that the black market just can’t produce. My old dealer had what he had .I had to take it. Now just like walking into any beer store .I have options. The only folks left on the black market are cheap people or people who don’t have transportation to access the legal market

    1. Just because you disagree with an assertion or how data is interpreted doesn’t mean it’s a lie. Please tone down your rhetoric in this forum.

  4. Legalizing Marijuana will not create a massive influx of marijuana impaired drivers on our roads.

    It will not create an influx of professionals (doctors, pilots, bus drivers, etc..) under the influence on the job either.

    This is a prohibitionist propaganda scare tactic.

    Truth: Responsible drivers don’t drive while impaired on any substance period!

    Irresponsible drivers are already on our roads, and they will drive while impaired regardless of their drug of choice’s legality.

    Therefore, legalizing marijuana will have little impact on the amount of marijuana impaired drivers on our roads.

    The same thing applies to people being under the influence of marijuana on the job.

    Responsible people do not go to work impaired, period. Regardless of their drug of choice’s legality.

  5. Fear of Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is unfounded. Not based on any science or fact whatsoever. So please prohibitionists, we beg you to give your scare tactics, “Conspiracy Theories” and “Doomsday Scenarios” over the inevitable Legalization of Marijuana Nationwide a rest. Nobody is buying them anymore these days. Okay?

    Furthermore, if all prohibitionists get when they look into that nice, big and shiny crystal ball of theirs, while wondering about the future of marijuana legalization, is horror, doom, and despair, well then I suggest they return that thing as quickly as possible and reclaim the money they shelled out for it, since it’s obviously defective.

    The prohibition of marijuana has not decreased the supply nor the demand for marijuana at all. Not one single iota, and it never will. Just a huge and complete waste of our tax dollars to continue criminalizing citizens for choosing a natural, non-toxic, relatively benign plant proven to be much safer than alcohol.

    If prohibitionists are going to take it upon themselves to worry about “saving us all” from ourselves, then they need to start with the drug that causes more death and destruction than every other drug in the world COMBINED, which is alcohol!

    Why do prohibitionists feel the continued need to vilify and demonize marijuana when they could more wisely focus their efforts on a real, proven killer, alcohol, which again causes more destruction, violence, and death than all other drugs, COMBINED?

    Prohibitionists really should get their priorities straight and/or practice a little live and let live. They’ll live longer, happier, and healthier, with a lot less stress if they refrain from being bent on trying to control others through Draconian Marijuana Laws.

  6. Contrary to what prohibitionists are so desperately trying to get the public to believe wholeheartedly and without question, legalizing marijuana IS NOT adding anything new into our society that wasn’t always there and widely available already.

    Therefore marijuana legalization does not lead to some massive influx of new marijuana consumers. The very same people who have been consuming marijuana during it’s prohibition are for the most part the very same ones who will be consuming marijuana when it’s legal.

    The prohibition of marijuana has never prevented marijuana’s widespread availability nor anyone from consuming marijuana that truly desires to do so.

    Marijuana has been ingrained within our society since the days of our founding fathers and part of human culture since biblical times, for thousands of years.

    So, since marijuana has always been with us and humans already have thousands upon thousands of years worth of experience with marijuana, what great calamities and “Doomsday Scenarios” do prohibitionists really think will happen now due to current legalization efforts that have never ever happened before in all human history?

    Legalize Nationwide!

  7. Well said, Mr. Hoffman. I agree completely. Each of the states with legalized recreational marijuana issues impact reports. And they say the same things: traffic accidents involving marijuana, up; traffic fatalities involving marijuana, up; homelessness, up; emergency room visits and hospitalizations involving marijuana, up; need for addiction treatment, up; school discipline and educational issues involving marijuana, up; workplace issues, including reduced productivity, involving marijuana, up; black market, still thriving. And as far as revenue, it doesn’t even come close to the COSTS of mitigating the effects of legal marijuana. Colorado (which has 6 years of experience with legal pot) SPENDS $4.50 to mitigate the negative consequences of marijuana FOR EVERY $1 in revenue gained. At least two states (including, I believe, California) have had to reduce the taxes charged in order to try to persuade people to buy legal vs. illegal marijuana. Then there are a myriad of environmental impacts, including millions of single-use plastics. And the list goes on, but you get my drift.

    Law enforcement is opposed to legalization. Medical societies are opposed to legalization. As far as I can tell, the only groups in favor of legalization are users and those who hope to make big bucks.

    Legalizing marijuana doesn’t make financial sense. It doesn’t make public safety or public health sense. It doesn’t make social, employment, or educational sense. It is naive to think that somehow Connecticut will be smarter, or luckier, or that magically we will avoid the consequences that all those other states are already facing. We have enough problems. Connecticut MUST learn from the mistakes of those states that have already legalized, and refuse to jump on the bandwagon.

    1. Thank you for your additional comments to my opinion piece. Contrary to the numerous responses above, my local paper had the results of a daily poll they took in today’s paper, where 30% of the poll respondents favored legalization and 70% were against it. I predict that the minority will win this one as the legislature won’t be able to resist the income generated by legalization.

      1. It is encouraging to read that polls are beginning to go the other way. See what happens when people are told the facts?

      2. Why would you or anyone think that legalization will change the amount of stoned drivers? It just may lower it.

  8. A couple of additional points: accidental exposures/poisonings by children and pets, up; use by youth, up (Colorado’s is well above the national average); and, finally, today’s marijuana is not your father’s or grandfather’s marijuana — THC content is significantly higher than it was in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. And if states decide to limit the amount of THC in legal pot, and the high isn’t high enough, and the prices are too high, where are those people going to go? The black market. And that’s why the black market will not go away.

  9. I just feel, in my mind, reading op pieces like this
    appealing to driving habits as reason to continue marijuana prohibition are simply tacit condemnation of marijuana use/users dressed up as safety concerns. What empowers users of the drug alcohol (note very carefully that it IS a highly addictive drug) to use better judgement in when to drive as compared to users of marijuana? Or for that matter, prescription meds, sleeping pills, cold medicine and so on? It’s a bit mind boggling that folks can’t put aside judgement and prejudice on this subject and simply review history; we have such a striking blueprint for this debate from the 1920s and bootlegging. People already use this drug. Let’s get it out in the open, regulate it, tax it and help erode the black market.

    1. I do not believe anybody, ever, has suggested that people who use alcohol or mind-altering prescription meds necessarily use better judgment. Making recreational marijuana legal will NOT erode the black market. That has been proven in those states where recreational pot has been legal for years.

  10. It sounds to me like you are assuming only legal marijuana users would be driving under the influence. This “DUI” argument against legalization seems like a stretch to me. I have to agree this is more “reefer madness.” If the danger of driving is really the concern, it’s time alcohol is made illegal.

    1. The alcohol genie is already out of the bottle, so to speak. There’s no going back on that one.

  11. Though, I do not encourage driving while high on cannabis, the real threat on our roads is “Cell Phones”. I own, and ride a motorcycle, but fear being hit by a distracted driver, much more than someone who is high on cannabis. Distracted Driving and Cell Phone usage will eventually kill more people than alcohol and cannabis combined. Wait, just wait.

    1. I agree that distracted driving is a real and significant hazard. And that’s why there are laws against it, with hefty fines. As far as I know, nobody is arguing that we should just do away with that prohibition.

  12. You mention simple economics. When an illegal substance becomes legal, it always eventually lowers in price as a result of an open competitive market. Also, there is no data to support the notion that more black market cannabis will be consumed once a legal market is established (please provide research results if I’m mistaken). Yes at first it will be more expensive, but the price will inevitably lower assuming that the state allows industry growth. Black market pot will soon be a thing of the past.

    Also, it appears that you assume that car crashes will increase with a legal market, but I’ve done a bit of research on this. California legalized medical in 1996. Fatal accidents decreased steadily over the years, and between the years 1999 and 2010, they fell by 46.3% (and yes, that is accurate… they were nearly cut in half despite a population increase in that time frame). Now of course, correlation does not equal causation. Fatalities didn’t necessarily decrease because of medical cannabis, but one thing is for: they didn’t increase.

    Something else to keep in mind is that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, the largest and most reputable government traffic agency in the country, conducted the largest study to date with over 9,000 drivers and came to the conclusion that, after accounting for age, gender, and other variables, THC DOES NOT increase the risk of crash. They found a 0% increase in risk. Z-E-R-O.

    I challenge anyone to try to come up with credible statistics on the accident rate of people that have ONLY smoked cannabis. It’s rather difficult for different reasons, but most of the times, people stay off the road. When they do drive, they just drive slower. Peer reviewed studies have revealed that they drive slower and are more cautious, while drinkers tend to take more risks.

    I don’t condone driving while high, but the statistics are clear, and they indicate that people ingesting cannnabis are a negligible threat to road safety. One could easily make the argument that the wide acceptance of alcohol use combined with the stigma of cannabis use increases fatal accidents. I will say this with absolute conviction — if all drinkers would quit and take up cannabis instead, illness, disease, depression, anxiety, and fatal accidents would all drop. Health costs would of course drop.

    Legal cannabis has already created some 300,000 jobs out of thin air, and that doesn’t even include the ancillary businesses that have been created as a result. More jobs translates to more happy people. More happy parents, and more happy kids.

    Your fears of super stoned drivers creating havoc and death statewide are unfounded, and the available data does not support any reason for your fear. I will give you this: with a new legal market, more people will have jobs, and thus, more people will be driving. So naturally, crashes may increase in number. However, this is hardly a good argument against job creation.

    The prohibition of cannabis has cost taxpayers hundreds of billions, and we have NOTHING to show for it except for overcrowded prisons and broken families resulting in more joblessness, poverty, hopelessness, and depression.

    Regardless, I wish you and yours peace and happiness.

    1. Look at the reports. All states with legal pot issue them. Your argument is a bit off the mark, however. Nobody suggests that the black market use will increase — only that it won’t decrease, and the black market won’t go away. For just one example, Colorado has had legal pot for about six years, and the black market there is thriving.

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