AAA study: Driving high can be as dangerous as driving drunk

A new study finds a dramatic increase in the number of fatal crashes involving drivers who recently smoked marijuana.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted the research in Washington State, where marijuana is legal. The number of fatal crashes in Washington State more than doubled soon after marijuana was legalized, according to AAA.

Along with the new report, AAA released a police dashcam video showing a driver pulled over for speeding on an Illinois highway.

In the video, the officer asks the driver “Is there any reason why you don't know you were going 67 mph when you were going around me?”

The driver replied, “Officer honestly to be honest, I smoke and I was just finishing smoking my marijuana which is probably why you smell it.”

He was later arrested on suspicion of driving while high on marijuana.

“It's a serious problem out there and not enough research has been done on this issue until now,” said Doug Shupe with AAA Texas.

The new report claims marijuana use, legal or not, can be just be as dangerous as drinking and driving.

In North Texas, there's proof marijuana use has been linked to serious crimes.

"Some people would have you believe it's innocent and there's nothing wrong with it,” said Arlington Police Lt. Chris Cook. “But when you start seeing these criminal offenders and they're using it and selling it, that's a big concern for us.”

In February, Arlington police busted two elaborate marijuana grow houses.  Detectives discovered nearly 200 marijuana plants between the two homes.

“A lot of these violent offenders that we've been arresting on other charges like robberies, they're dealing in the marijuana trade,” explained Cook. “They're either selling it or are consumers of it.”

And while AAA’s study doesn't delve into these types of crimes, it does seek to draw attention to the cause and effect of marijuana use.

“Regardless of whether or not you're living in a state where it's legal or not, people need to know about the dangers associated with marijuana impaired driving,” warned Cook.