Massachusetts adds Cannabis curriculum to drivers ed courses

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Starting in 2023, Massachusetts Drivers Education classes will be the first to include a course on Cannabis.

The new curriculum, created by AAA Northeast, comes after the transportation company conducted studies with teenagers in Rhode Island and all of New England.

They found younger drivers were having more access to marijuana than alcohol.

“Many were saying it’s really difficult for an underage person to procure alcohol, we’re spending too much time talking about alcohol, what we should be talking about is cannabis,” said Diana Gugliotta, AAA Northeast director of Public Affairs said.

A study released this week by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found drug use behind the wheel in the past year has significantly increased.

The study conducted between 2020-22,  found about 25% of fatally injured drivers had THC in their system, making marijuana the most common drug found in toxicology screenings.

The research includes data from trauma sites across the country.

The closest in New England was UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester.

ABC 6 News spoke with AAA Northeast to find out how the region compared to the national average.

“The rates for impaired driving at that test site were even higher. 30.6 % were positive for alcohol and 29% were positive for cannabinoids at that site,” Gugliotta said.

ABC 6 left messages inquiring about Marijuana traffic stops for several Rhode Island and Massachusetts Police Departments but did not hear back.

However, AAA said they’re working on adapting a similar curriculum with the Community College of Rhode Island.

“In order to teach driver’s ed in Rhode Island you have to be a certified school teacher. These are very seasoned professionals so we’re working on bringing it to them, the teachers,” Gugliotta said.

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