Police warn against driving high ahead of marijuana legalization

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Marijuana will be legal when we ring in the new year, and police have a warning for people who use it.

“Driving under the influence is definitely going to be one of our main concerns with the new cannabis law going into effect,” says Champaign police officer Brian Rogers.

Police say this has been an issue in other states where weed is already legal, including Washington. The state was one of the first to legalize weed.

AAA did a study there. They found that the percentage of drivers involved in fatal car crashes who recently used marijuana more than doubled from 2013 to 2014. It jumped from 8% to 17%.

Now, police are stressing the dangers of driving under the influence.

“One of the main things that those substances are going to affect first is your decision making and your ability to react quickly to things that are happening in front of you. It kind of dulls the senses,” says Rogers.

He also says it does not matter if it is weed or alcohol. Drivers who get behind the wheel while impaired from any drug have to remember they are responsible for both their own lives and others around them.

But some drivers say it might not be too big of an issue, and think people will make the right choices.

“People have been doing it for years…and you don’t here about people. Oh, this guy…smoked three joints and ran into a ditch and killed everybody. You don’t hear about that stuff,” says Champaign resident Jeff Dawkins.

Police hope the decisions drivers make are the right ones. They have one important thing they want people to keep in mind.

“We’re just cautioning everyone to use responsibly, and if there’s any ever doubt, definitely don’t get on the road,” says Rogers.

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