By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota is in a heated debate over whether to legalize marijuana.

Critics say huge questions remain like: Will legal pot mean more traffic crashes?

Here’s what we know: Drunk driving is already among the state’s most dangerous public safety problems, and last year, 380 people died on Minnesota roads — 121 of them in alcohol-related crashes.

So, what happens if Minnesota adds marijuana to the mix?

Critics say drugged driving could mean more crashes and death.

Is that true? The short answer is yes — and no.

The traffic data coming in from states with legal pot is mixed. An insurance industry report says crash claims rose 3 percent in Colorado, Washington and Oregon after they legalized pot.

Colorado reports the number of stoned drivers is up sharply, but a three-year public health study found there was no statistical difference in traffic deaths in marijuana states.

But that does not mean there is no cause for concern.

Colorado has a 5 nanogram THC legal limit for driving high. The state is training officers to spot impaired pot drivers, but there’s no reliable roadside test — yet.

Data from 10 states with legal pot show many drunk drivers are also high.

But more research is needed to say for sure if the roads are more dangerous.

Pat Kessler

Comments (2)
  1. Frank Ibis says:

    A 3% rise in weed-related traffic incidents is hardly a blip, yet 10,874 people were killed in drunk driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater) in 2017. Booze is the killer, not marijuana. The main issue with driving stoned is driving too slowly…

  2. Herman Allmaras says:

    The people that want to use pot already are, stoners aren’t waiting for the law to change.