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Study Shows Medical Marijuana Laws Lower Traffic Fatality Rates

Posted by John C. Taylor | Jun 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

As the push to legalize medical marijuana in Tennessee continues, led by Representative Jeremy Faison and Senator Steve Dickerson, a recent report might bolster their efforts. The study, conducted by researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and published online in the American Journal of Public Health, found that states that enacted laws legalizing medical marijuana saw an 11 percent reduction in vehicle-related fatalities.

Study addressed public safety concerns

The Columbia University researchers undertook the study due to the increasing number of states passing medical marijuana laws and the growing concerns regarding its effect on public safety. The study analyzed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data on traffic fatalities during the period from 1985 to 2014. The study found the greatest reduction in traffic fatality rates in states with medical marijuana laws occurred among drivers ages 15 to 44; there was little evidence of a reduction in drivers age 45 or older.

What is “medical marijuana”?

The marijuana plant, or Cannabis sativa, contains chemicals that have been found to help treat a variety of illnesses and the symptoms thereof. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine, it has approved two medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Medical marijuana is currently legal in 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Marijuana laws in Tennessee

While the number of states legalizing medical marijuana is growing, the Volunteer State has not joined the ranks of those states.  Marijuana possession, use, and sale remains illegal in the state of Tennessee, even in medicinal cases. In Tennessee, it is also illegal to casually exchange marijuana up to and including 0.5 oz.

Penalties for marijuana possession in Tennessee

In Tennessee, penalties for marijuana vary based on the conviction. Offenses involving an under-age person face increased penalties. It is a misdemeanor to possess any amount of marijuana — or exchange up to and including 0.5 oz. of marijuana — without payment. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, up to one year in jail, or both. If you have two or more prior marijuana possession or casual exchange convictions, the third offense and any offense after the third are each treated as felonies. Penalties can include fines up to $5,000, one to six years in prison, or both. In addition, a judge can order you to participate in drug offender school at your expense, order you to perform community service hours, or both.

Facing a drug charge? We can help

A charge of marijuana possession, use, and sale is a serious offense in Tennessee. Our Murfreesboro drug defense attorneys can help. At Dotson & Taylor Attorneys at Law in Murfreesboro, we have more than 40 years of combined experience representing clients accused of drug possession and other drug charges. If you are facing a drug charge, don't delay. Call a member of our team today at 615-890-1982 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation. We are available to meet on weekends and evenings for your convenience.

About the Author

John C. Taylor

John C. Taylor is a Murfreesboro native and a graduate of Oakland High School. He earned his bachelor's degree from Furman University in Greenville, SC, where he participated in the Furman Advantage Research program, studying religion in American politics. John also earned his Master's degree.


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