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Marijuana a cause of car accidents? It's a debate in Florida

There has been an ongoing debate about the legalization of marijuana and the potential for drugged driving. Now, Florida has gotten into the argument with a group called, "Don't Let Florida Go To Pot." The coalition is a group of over 40 organizations that are fighting against the medical marijuana amendment, because it claims that the drug could be implicated in up to a fourth of all fatal car accidents.

Under the group's statistics listing, they claim that 25 percent of all drug-related fatal vehicular accidents in the United States involve marijuana. That statistic comes from the October 2011 White House Office of National Drug Control Policy report. That report was used to measure the positive result for marijuana in drivers who had been involved in fatal crashes between 2005 and 2009 and then tested for drug use.

It's been argued that the drug testing doesn't have any uniform level of toxicity or a set procedure to test for drugs across the United States. That means that a positive test could be found without the implication that the driver was impaired at the time of the crash. The same report indicated that testing is often inaccurate.

The problem with the information is that there is really no universally accepted threshold of impairment for those using illicit drugs. Because of that, it's impossible to tell if they would be considered "under the legal limit" or "intoxicated." Additionally, the presence of cannabinoids may not be enough to indicate impairment.

Of course, if someone driving drugged is impaired at the time, his or her negligence could lead to your serious injury or even death. You shouldn't have to face medical bills or the loss of a family member without some repercussions for that driver. You can still seek compensation for your injuries, even if the police don't press charges.

Source: Tampa Bay Times, "PolitiFact Florida: Fact-checking link between marijuana and fatal car crashes" Joshua Gillin, Aug. 10, 2014

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