Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1438 into law on June 25, making Illinois the 11th state in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.
Illinois legalized marijuana for medical use in 2014. Thirty-four states and Washington, D.C., now have legalized medical or recreational marijuana.
That means the majority of Americans live in a state with some form of legal use of the drug, and safety advocates are voicing concern about the impact of the situation on the nation's roadways.
As the latest Illinois legislation passed, for example, the National Safety Council (NSC) issued a statement supporting the simultaneous passage of updated laws restricting marijuana-impaired driving.
States with legal recreational or medical marijuana are reporting an increase in fatal motor vehicle crashes involving tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of cannabis, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. This highlights the importance of educating drivers about marijuana impairment and advocating for further research.
Moreover, a recent NSC survey also indicates widespread public support for laws prohibiting marijuana-impaired driving.
The majority of survey respondents (74%) said that cannabis is impairing and should not be used while driving.
When asked about top concerns, 72% cited personal safety and the safety of loved ones due to marijuana impairment on the roads.
In addition, 66% said they believe the country needs to set a blood alcohol content level equivalent for marijuana. Finally, 71% of survey respondents support increased police checkpoints to identify impaired drivers.