Two and a half years after Washington state legalized recreational marijuana, police are arresting more drivers with pot in their systems, reports NPR. The Washington toxicology lab, which tests blood samples from DUI cases, says that three years ago, 19 percent of the samples contained THC, the key ingredient in pot. This year, that percentage is up to 33 percent. That worries Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a group critical of the legal pot industry. “I think really what it says is that people are getting the message from legalization that marijuana is safe,” he says. “They’re making money off of heavy, habitual, regular users, and my worry is that a lot of those users think it’s perfectly OK to get behind the wheel after they smoke.”
The 33 percent figure comes with a big caveat. It’s not a percentage of all drivers, rather those who have had their blood taken under suspicion of DUI. It could be that Washington state patrol and the police are just getting better at recognizing stoned drivers and pulling them over. A grimmer statistic has added to the concern. “What we see is that in 2014 we had a fairly good spike in marijuana involvement in crashes,” says Shelly Baldwin of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Before legalization, about half of the fatality blood samples containing marijuana had active THC. Now that’s up to 85 percent, and Baldwin says that does point to changing behaviors. “It’s telling me that people are using and driving,” Baldwin says.