SACRAMENTO- Today, Governor Brown signed a historic package of laws which will provide statewide rules regulating medical marijuana. As former CHP officer and joint author of the package, Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) was focused addressing the proliferation of drugged driving (DUID) which has increased dramatically in states with legalized recreational marijuana.
The new laws commission research by the University of California, San Diego which will lay the groundwork for new marijuana-specific field sobriety tests and other tools to detect high drivers.
“California has not had a statewide strategy for curbing drugged driving (DUID). Today that begins to change as the University of California will begin critical research on marijuana-impaired driving which will lead to better roadside tools for law enforcement,” said Lackey. “A recent report on Colorado showed nearly 1 out of 5 car crash deaths in 2014 were marijuana-related. With legalization initiatives looming, it’s vital we prepare for how to keep our roads safe for all Californians. I am thankful Governor Brown worked with us to address this public safety hazard head on.”
Lack of comprehensive research on marijuana-impaired driving has slowed law enforcement’s ability to crack down on stoned drivers. The research initiated by the passage of AB 266 will be later used to develop best practices for officers in the field.
A report released in August by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area examined Colorado’s experience after legalizing recreational marijuana. Some conclusions found about marijuana-impaired driving were:
• Following legalization, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 32 percent in one year
• Marijuana-related traffic deaths made up approximately 20 percent of all traffic deaths in 2014. In 2009, they made up 10 percent of all traffic deaths.
Numerous initiatives have already been filed in California to present voters with the option of legalizing recreational marijuana next year, so it is vital the state prepares to deal with increasing numbers of drugged drivers.
Last week, the Governors Highway Safety Association called for national action on DUID as statistics show incidents of drug-impaired driving are approaching the frequency of drunk driving.
Lackey represents the 36th Assembly District, which contains portions of Kern, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties, including the cities of Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita, Quartz Hill, Acton, Littlerock, Pearblossom, Mojave, Rosamond, California City, Phelan and Piñon Hills.