Marijuana driving is a problem in Michigan, and experts expect it to only get worse. According to a recent study by the Michigan Highway Safety Association the number of drug-impaired fatal crashes has increased over the ten year period between 2007 and 2017 by 151%, up from 98 to 246. More than 294,000 Michiganders currently have medical marijuana cards, and voters approved a ballot proposal on Nov. 6 that legalizes marijuana for recreational use for those at least 21.
When the state begins issuing business licenses for recreational sales of marijuana early next year, the number of people using marijuana, and possibly driving under its influence, is sure to skyrocket. This has law enforcement officials working hard to find reliable and easy testing methods.
Last November the Michigan State Police wrapped up a year long test program in five Michigan counties to measure the accuracy of a roadside drug test. Early reports show that the program was a great success. A report showed that of 92 people who were tested in the five counties last year, 80 percent tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. The presence of marijuana was far higher than other drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamines, opiates and benzodiazepines.
Last December lawmakers agreed to expand the program based on its success. The program will be extended to 55 counties across the state and for another year. The expansion would include additional training for police officers — or Drug Recognition Experts — in how to detect drivers impaired by marijuana and other controlled substances.
One company in Michigan is taking a different approach, and trying to get ahead of the problem. The Arrive Alive Tour is the nation’s first and only impaired driving simulator to feature a marijuana driving component. This year they will tour hundreds of schools, teaching young people about the dangers of marijuana driving.