How marijuana use could be impacting DUI numbers since recreational legalization in Maryland

How marijuana use could be impacting DUI numbers since recreational legalization in Maryland

BALTIMORE -- When you hear about DUIs, most think of driving and driving, but that can also mean using marijuana and driving.

Ahead of the holiday weekend, a national non-profit released a study suggesting cannabis-related DUIs are much higher in states where it's legal.

When it comes to cannabis, Justin Widerman said he hasn't thought much about its impact on driving ability.

He suspects it's the case for most other Marylanders.

"Being drunk is definitely different, but [when you use cannabis] you're still impaired. You're definitely under some type of influence, which [means] you probably shouldn't be operating behind the wheel," Widerman said.

With marijuana fully legalized in Maryland, it means more people could be driving high this Labor Day weekend.

Like most states, Maryland doesn't have a standard for how much THC- the drug's psychoactive component- has to be present to constitute a citation.

But, law enforcement can charge you with DUI if they observe impaired driving and there's evidence of cannabis use.

"There's all kinds of studies showing the impairment levels. I think as these states have these more liberal policies passing, more and more people are getting behind the wheel," Amy Ronshausen, Drug-Free America Foundation's executive director, said.

In their study, which examined data from 2022, DFAD found in states where cannabis is legal in some capacity, cannabis-related DUIs happen 32% more than in states where it's not legal.

"So, you might eat an edible and think you're OK to drive. 15 minutes later, eat another edible while you're behind the wheel and all of a sudden it's hitting you," Ronshausen said.

WJZ reached out to a number of agencies in our area to see if there's been an impact. Three agencies got back to us and reported what they saw in July.

The Howard COunty Police Department recorded one suspected cannabis DUI, the Harford County Sheriff's Office recorded two, while the Baltimore County Police Department recorded four.

Some drivers, like James Kimble, aren't too worried at the moment.

"The same poeple that are smoking it were smoking it before it was legalized, so there's really no difference," he said.

The Maryland Cannabis Administration recommends to wait at least six hours before you get behind the wheel if you smoke or ingest cannabis.

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