Illinois Cannabis Legalization: Increased Motor Accident Risk?
On June 25th of last year, Illinois became the 11th state in the US to legalize marijuana after Governor Pritzker signed House Bill 1438, better known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
While it was signed in the middle of last year, it didn’t take effect until the first day of the new decade. There were certain restrictions that came with the legalization. For instance, the maximum amount of marijuana plant material that can be legally purchased is 30 grams.
For cannabis concentrate products, the threshold lies even lower at five grams. Edibles were also made legal for sale provided that the THC contained therein does not exceed 500 milligrams.
Medical marijuana patients will now be permitted to grow their own marijuana, but cannot go over the limit of five plants. Smoking marijuana in public is still illegal so keep things within the confines of your own home.
All marijuana and cannabis-infused products will be taxed progressively based on the amount of THC contained within them. Products that have a THC concentration below 35% will be taxed for 10% of the total purchase price
Conversely, cannabis-infused products with a THC concentration exceeding 35% will be taxed to the higher tune of 20%. Marijuana products with a 35% or more THC concentration will receive the heaviest taxation at 25% of the purchase price.
Municipalities also have the option to levy additional taxes of up to 3.75% on recreational marijuana if they so choose. It’s worth noting that these taxes only apply to recreational marijuana as medical marijuana is exempt from any taxation.
With the legalization of marijuana, you may be concerned that the concentration of stoned drivers will see a sharp increase. But does pot actually increase the risks of a motor accident occurring?
Well, a 2018 study showed smoking pot can indeed increase the risks of getting into a collision — and that the increased risk can persist as long as five hours after using the drug. Researchers at McGill University attributed the increased risk to dampened reaction times.
The study was funded by the Canadian Automobile Association right as the nation’s prohibition on recreational marijuana was about to come to a close. Of course, alcohol is still far worse for drivers, but that doesn’t mean smoking pot before going on your next road trip is a good idea.
Various side effects were observed in drivers who were under the influence of marijuana such as a distorted perception of time, weaving across lanes, and a higher frequency of braking. These are things that are often observed in drunk drivers, albeit to a greater extent.
The researchers at McGill University were careful to get their methodology right so that the results of the study would be as free from bias as possible. This is especially important for topics such as cannabis in which cultural stigma may skew the perception of data.
A total of 45 people participated in the study. The participants — who use cannabis recreationally not less than once a week but not more than four times a week — were between the ages of 18 and 24.
Each participant had to complete four separate test sessions. The first test was conducted before the participant took any cannabis and was used as the control. After inhaling a 100-milligram dose of standard cannabis, the participant was tested three more times.
The second test was conducted an hour after the inhalation, the third after three hours, and the final test five hours after the participant inhaled the cannabis.
Seeing as testing the participants in a live road environment while they were under the influence of a psychoactive drug would be far too dangerous, the researchers heading the study opted for driving simulators as a safer alternative.
Participants were then instructed to complete a computerized test that measures distractibility, peripheral reaction time, and attention span. There was no observable detriment to basic driving skills such as steering, speed, braking, and lane control.
However, more complex challenges such as children crossing the street or a car suddenly slamming on the breaks in front of them saw participants fail spectacularly following the cannabis use — even during the final test that was conducted five hours after the inhalation.
The overall risk of crashing was increased twofold or greater in the post-cannabis tests. This shows that, while drivers who have smoked pot may appear coherent, their dulled reaction time could lead to disaster on the highway.
The Bottom Line
With the increased risk of motor accidents, it’s important to have qualified personal injury lawyers on call. Don’t hesitate to ring us up at (708) 400-0000 for a free consultation with no strings attached. You can also use our contact page to submit any questions or concerns.
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