Last year in Michigan, Henry MacDougall, 16, of Ludington had been “dabbing” marijuana and then crashed the car he was driving. He died instantly. Henry’s dad Gordon Mac Dougall, as well as Detroit city leaders, urge voters to vote no on marijuana legalization in Michigan, where DUID traffic deaths related to marijuana are a problem.
In July, 21- year-old Jacob Scot Damron drove high, killing newlyweds Hannah and Jacob Allbaugh. He a was arraigned Oct. 23 in Allegan County District Court on multiple felonies, including operating while intoxicated causing death and reckless driving causing death.
One quarter of the traffic fatalities in Colorado and Washington, the first states to legalize marijuana, involve a driver under the the influence of THC. Now Michigan voters face this ballot option, and a group called Healthy and Productive Michigan leads the opposition campaign. The Detroit NAACP has come out against marijuana legalization, with Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, saying “Our children need hope, not dope.”
Youths don’t consider THC driving dangers
Typically, marijuana advocates bombard our teens with messages that marijuana is harmless, “safer than alcohol” and “never killed anyone.” Furthermore, medical marijuana states such as Michigan make the drug attractive to teens. If it’s “medicinal,” it can’t be dangerous, they say.
Although we warn young people not to drive drunk, we have failed to warn them that driving under the influence of marijuana is just as bad as alcohol. Even when tough laws are on the books, the legal system is reluctant to punish teens or young adults with driving under the influence when someone dies.
A case in point is Sean Martin who was 17 years old when he caused a fatal crash in Detroit last year. He’s charged with killing Dr. Cynthia Ray and leaving runner Sean English a parapalegic, but had THC in his system when tested 8 hours after the crash.
Some of the young people who died in car crashes riding in cars driven by friends under the influence of marijuana. These include:
Blake Hendershot, 17
Bicyclist, Motorcyclists also die
Bicycling is healthy, but bicyclists really aren’t safe when we get more stoned drivers on the road. Stoned drivers tend to drive earlier in the day than drunk drivers who drive at night, which should be a concern for both cyclists and pedestrians.
Stoned drivers killed several bicyclists and motorcyclists in Michigan, including:
Other THC-Impaired DUID Deaths
Here’s a partial list of people who died in traffic fatalities because of marijuana-impaired drivers:
Detroit – Dr. Cynthia Ray
Nathan O’ Berry (killed by his own brother)
Kalamazoo — Fire Chief Ed Swatilski
Saginaw County — Mark Burkhart
Grand Rapids — Wilma Jean Debruin
Kentwood — Jeri Hoek (Her husband was critically injured)
Traverse City — Joseph Nachazel
Crashes involving multiple deaths
Drivers under the influence of drugs cause more deaths than drivers under the influence of alcohol, and marijuana is the number one drug implicated in DUID deaths. In Michigan, some of the crashes involved multiple deaths at once:
I-94 crash Marko Rubin, 48, of Macomb
France Kevan Bowers, 49
Leelenau County — Brian Surhigh, 26
Larvell Small, 35
Lamareo Baldwin, 41,
Hartford Township — Celeste Phillips, 67,
Lou Ann Holcomb, 56
Charlotte Sieber, 51
Kathyn Maya, 56
Michigan already has a stoned driver problem and tough laws against driving high have not prevented traffic deaths.
Vote NO on legalizing marijuana, Proposal 18.1, to protect you and your loved ones. Insurance rates go up 27% after a state legalizes marijuana.
We don’t have adequate respect for the families who lost loved ones to stoned drivers. The justice system tends to favor the accused over the victims. After all, when it’s legal for the adults to get stoned, how can you blame the teens for thinking pot use is harmless?