One official in Olmsted County is voicing concerns about the law’s potential impact on road safety and other issues as Democratic state lawmakers work to legalize recreational marijuana in Minnesota. DFL legislators in Minnesota unveiled their draft legislation for the regulation of adult-use recreational marijuana last week. The bill’s committee hearings could begin as early as this week.
And many legislators have said they think legal marijuana could pass this session after the DFL took control of both chambers of the Legislature following the midterm elections in November. Tim Walz, the governor of Minnesota, has already said he would sign such legislation. But opposition to the proposed bill has existed.
Olmsted County Sheriff Kevin Torgerson expressed concerns about how legalizing marijuana might impact traffic safety in a post on Facebook on Friday. How many more people will our state lawmakers allow to be killed on our highways by additional drunk drivers before they declare it acceptable? By Torgerson.
Will it be acceptable in your family if a family member is killed by a high driver who is using marijuana legally while driving and kills your child or daughter as they are returning from school, a game, or a concert? But what do statistics on incidents of drunk driving in states where marijuana use for recreational purposes is already legal to suggest? It’s difficult.
According to a report from the Colorado Department of Public Safety, since Colorado became one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012, the number of citations for impaired driving in which marijuana was thought to be at least one of the substances involved increased by 120% from 2014 to 2020.
However, the same report also mentions that more law enforcement officers in Colorado have received training to identify marijuana impairment since the drug’s legalization. According to the Washington Post, cases of drugged driving increased by 43% in Canada, where recreational marijuana use was legalized in 2018, and impaired driving as a whole increased by 19%.
States that have legalized recreational marijuana also have different enforcement procedures. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, some states have a zero-tolerance policy for driving while having any level of THC in the body, while others have put restrictions on the amount.
Torgerson asserted that the number of persons experiencing homelessness would rise by “more than 100%” if marijuana were legalized. When they interviewed inmates who were experiencing homelessness in city and county jails in Colorado in 2018, researchers took a closer look at that problem.
According to the findings, which were reported by CNN, 35% of the prisoners who had moved to Colorado following legalization claimed that their decision was at least somewhat influenced by the state’s marijuana legislation. However, the survey only examines a limited sample size because the bulk of the inmates surveyed had already been residing in Colorado prior to its legalization.
Officials in Denver also disputed assertions that local homelessness had increased as a result of marijuana laws. Denver’s 9News reports that at a 2020 meeting, municipal officials cited statistics demonstrating that the number of homeless people in the city has decreased from 2012 to 2019.