California has legalized recreational marijuana, but not everyone’s happy about it. One of the most common concerns in whether increased marijuana use will lead to more car crashes. To help prevent this from happening, California has passed a new law regarding marijuana and cars.

Under Proposition 64, recreational marijuana is legal for adults age 21 and over in California. Shops dedicated to recreational weed haven’t opened yet, but these dispensaries may be opening up in early 2018. In the meantime, many people are worrying about what will happen on California’s roads.

Marijuana impairs people’s driving ability.  

The known effects of marijuana can be detrimental to one’s driving ability. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that marijuana’s ability to impair judgement, reduce coordination, and slow reaction time can impair one’s driving ability.

In other states that have legalized medical marijuana, there is some evidence to support a link to an increase in traffic accidents. In a study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, researchers found that auto insurance claim frequency was 3 percent higher in states with legal recreational marijuana compared to neighboring states without legal recreational marijuana.

California law already bans driving while high.

It’s already illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in California, and this includes marijuana. Anyone found guilty of doing so can receive a DUI conviction, which comes with penalties that can include license suspension, jailtime and expensive fines and court costs, among other things.

Proposition 64 specifically bans possession of an open container of marijuana, including loose cannabis flower, while driving a car. It does not change California’s DUI laws, either, so driving while impaired by marijuana remains a crime. Nevertheless, some lawmakers wanted clearer laws on marijuana and driving.

A new law targets marijuana use in cars.

Senate Bill 65 adds a little clarification and closes any gaps in the law. It makes consuming marijuana—whether by smoking it or by eating edibles—illegal when driving or riding in a vehicle. The law was approved by the governor on September 11.

As a result, California’s laws regarding marijuana consumption and cars now mirror laws regarding alcohol consumption and cars.

So how can individuals ensure that they’re staying on the right side of the law as recreational weed dispensaries start popping up next year? It’s simple:

  • Don’t drive following marijuana use or while high on marijuana.
  • Don’t keep open containers of marijuana or loose cannabis flower in your car.
  • Don’t smoke marijuana, eat marijuana edibles or otherwise consume marijuana while in a car.

As always, Dashers Insurance is your safe driving partner. Contact us to take the Dashers Pledge against distracted driving, to review your auto insurance, or whenever you need California DMV Services.