I'm not talking about the Hi-line (US Highway 2) across Northern Montana. I'm talking about the dangers of driving while high on marijuana. In less than a month recreational marijuana will be legal here in Montana.
Locally, there are still a bunch of unknowns. However, one thing is certain. Driving High is dangerous and illegal.
Why we might be concerned?
Missoula is home to more dispensaries (per capita) than any other city in the country! (Verilife Report, 2020). The Public Health Institute out of Oakland, CA recommends 1 dispensaries per every 19,000 people. That means we should have only 6 dispensaries for the population of Missoula county (121,520 people). Imagine if there were 45 McDonalds restaurants in Missoula.
As of this post, there are currently over 460 licensed providers and registered dispensaries who will be open for business on January 1st, 2021, in Montana. That's more than enough dispensaries to support a Population of 8.7 Million Montanans. (more than 8 times our current population.)
In Colorado, a state that legalized the recreational use of marijuana back in 2012, there is hard evidence that more and more people are driving high.
Check out this news story from January 29. 2021 from CBS-Denver: Marijuana DUI Arrests up 48% in Last Year Across Colorado
According to a Colorado Impact report on the Legalization of Marijuana in 2018, 6 years after legalization, marijuana related traffic deaths increased by 151 percent while all Colorado traffic deaths increased by 35 percent.
What would a 35% increase in DUI related fatalities look like here in Montana. As of December 6th, 2021 we have had 130 impaired driving fatalities on Montana Roadways. A 35% increase our numbers would be 175 total impaired driving deaths.
What can you do to be safe?
Number one, most important way to remain as safe as you can on our roadways is to ensure you are wearing your seat belt and that all other occupants of your vehicle are properly restrained as well. This is your best defense against the "Other Drivers" who may be impaired.
Number two, choose to only drive 100% sober. Any amount of alcohol and/or cannabis cause impairment making it more dangerous to drive.
Number three, choose to drive in control and free from distractions.
Number four, if you choose to use Cannabis, research, purchase, and use safe storage devices that will help protect others, including pets and children, from accidental ingestion. Reach out to Safe Kids, Montana for more info.
Number five, research and understand that the cannabis products today are not the cannabis products of the Cheech and Chong days. When it comes to edibles, make sure you have a full understanding of the serving size and the THC content of each serving.
Number Six, reach out to organizations like Safe Kids, All Nations Health, Healthy Missoula Youth and many others who are working to keep our communities safe and healthy.
With that, please share this info with other and please Drive Safe Missoula