Car collisions skyrocket involving people driving high on legalized pot

Northampton police arrested 6 people for driving high last year after Massachusetts legalized weed

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo. It is now legal in Massachusetts for adults to possess, grow and use limited amounts of recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) –  Massachusetts is among 8 states and Washington DC that have legalized recreational marijuana, and drivers high on pot are a problem for police.

In states where recreational marijuana is legal, police are encountering more high drivers, creating danger on the roads. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the 3 first states to legalize recreational pot – Colorado, Oregon, and Washington – have already seen a higher risk of people getting in accidents while driving high.The number of people killed in crashes involving high drivers increased in Colorado for a 3rd straight year.

Northampton police arrested 6 people for driving high last year after Massachusetts legalized weed. Northampton police Captain John Cartledge told 22News, “Certainly it’s much harder to test for marijuana or any other types of drugs without some sort of chemical test, especially roadside.”

Northampton police rely on drug recognition experts to tell if someone is driving high. They look for certain signs like slow driving, slurred speech, and the smell of marijuana. To drivers, those methods aren’t reliable enough.

“It would be nice to come up with a better test,” says Clarissa Eaton of Concord, “but right now there’s nothing concrete that we could use.”

Jason Rude of Concord says, “It is kind of shocking, and what this points out to me is that we are on uncharted territory here.”

In Massachusetts, anyone 21 or older can carry an ounce of weed in their car, so long as it’s in a sealed container, and in the glove compartment.  Breaking the law could result in a one-year suspended license. The law is also enforced for those who drive high on medical marijuana.