I understand that driving and cannabis is a major issue and a concern. I'm not advocating impaired driving. However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the United States released a report in 2015 called “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk: A Case-Control Study”, and did not find an increase in crash risk associated with THC. Even more recently, in July 2017, the American Journal of Public Health—as we are here at the health committee—found that changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates for Washington and Colorado were not statistically different from those in similar states without recreational marijuana legalization. This is a recent study, so please do look this up.
I'm not encouraging impaired driving, but the vast majority of cannabis consumers are not driving impaired. Their judgment is not impaired as with alcohol. With alcohol, you think you can drive and you know you can't. With cannabis, you know when you can't and you won't drive. We also have to consider the hundreds of thousands of medical marijuana patients in this country who are unable to drive, contribute, or work if they don't use cannabis. If you criminalize those who drive under the influence of cannabis, you're going to criminalize every patient and poor medical user across this country.
What we're also finding is that this targeted harassment, as we've admitted, would require taking someone to a hospital, using a needle, and drawing their blood against their will when they don't get to give consent, and for what: to prove that they've consumed cannabis, or to prove that they're impaired? Impairment is proven by performance, whether you're driving on pharmaceutical drugs with a label that says not to operate heavy machinery or vehicles while using those pills, whether you're driving angry because you had a fight, or whether you're driving and texting. Texting has proven to increase crashes. We know it, and it happened immediately. We could immediately say that cellphones and texting create distracted driving and create increased crashes on the road. It's demonstrable. It's proven.
With cannabis, you can't prove it, and that's why the police and law enforcement are falling all over themselves trying to figure out how to find a test and how to set a blood limit. As an official endorser of Washington state's Initiative 502 campaign, I was part of the legalization, along with my husband's prosecutor—so you can find common ground with people who worked against you before—but they admitted that they only had a blood level for cannabis because having that would encourage the public to support the initiative.
What we have to acknowledge is that decades of prohibition and misinformation generated by the government and fear about driving with cannabis are actually discouraging people from finding out the truth about cannabis.
As I said, the American Journal of Public Health studied this extensively in 2017, as did the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2015. Cannabis is not a crisis for the roads. Police should be focusing on alcohol and truly dangerous drugs.