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Colorado has a drugged driving problem; here’s the data

By Ed Wood, for DUID Victims Voices   Lukas Myers knows this.  The photo shows him being extracted from a car when he was 12 years old after a crash caused by a marijuana-impaired driver.  Most bones in both of Lukas’s legs were broken as well as both wrists.  

For some, stories like this are convincing.  

Others need data.

 So here is a summary of relevant data from 10 sources.

  1. Percent of drivers who admit driving after marijuana use:
    • 18.6% of past-30 day adult marijuana users[1]
    • 54.4%% of past-30 day high school student marijuana users[2]
  2. Toxicology tests of those arrested for DUI[3]:
Drug category Number
Cannabinoids Positive screens 4,205
  THC positive 4,069
Alcohol   3,956
Benzodiazepines   1,774
Methamphetamine and similar   1,090
Cocaine      838
Opioids/opiates      699
Sleeping Zs      115
Barbituates        51

Note: CBI  data from Jul 2019 to Jun 2020 when all DUI blood samples were tested for both alcohol and a full drug panel. 

  1. DUI charges– percent caused by alcohol, THC and polydrug use – 3 year trend [4]
  2016 2018 Percentage change
Alcohol 78.8% 75.3% -4.4%
THC   5.4%   6.4% +18.5%
Polydrug 12.7% 14.5% +14.2%
  1. Traffic deaths per Billion Vehicle Miles Traveled (BVMT):
    • Increased from 9.91 in the five years before marijuana commercialization to 11.26 in the five years after marijuana commercialization[5].
    • Increase of 1.46 deaths/BVMT per year adjusted after marijuana commercialization, compared with a synthetic control[6].
    • Increase of 1.9 deaths/BVMT per year adjusted after marijuana commercialization, compared with states with stable legalization policies[7].
    • Increase of 1.7 deaths/BVMT per year non-adjusted after marijuana commercialization compared with states without legal recreational or medical marijuana[8].

Note: the above reports measured the effect of marijuana commercialization in 2014, not marijuana legalization in 2012.

  1. Traffic fatalities implicating THC:

There were 632 traffic fatalities in 2018.  87% of the drivers in those fatal crashes were tested for drugs.  83 tested positive for THC including 36 at or above 5 ng/ml[9].

  1. Vehicular homicide convictions by drug group in 2016[10]:
Drugs detected Number
Alcohol only 10
THC only 2
Single other drug only 1
Alcohol + THC 2
Alcohol + other drug 1
Alcohol + THC + other drug 2

So what is Colorado doing about the problem?

    Deny the problem exists

In 2020 the Department of Motor Vehicles revised the Driver Handbook to say, “…it is unclear whether cannabis use increases the risk of car crashes.”

    Encourage marijuana use

During the COVID pandemic shutdown, marijuana dealers were classified as an “essential business” by the Governor, permitting them to sell their product while non-essential businesses were required to close.

Home delivery of marijuana was authorized, ostensibly to reduce drugged driving.

At the December 14, 2020 meeting of the Retail Marijuana Public Health Advisory Committee, the Colorado Department of Public Health an Environment announced that henceforth, “marijuana users” were to be referred to as “cannabis consumers” since the former label is pejorative.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

    Subsidize the marijuana industry

Governor Polis announced a $584,399 tax credit to Canadian marijuana company SLANG Worldwide to expand operations in Colorado.

On a side note that may not be completely unrelated, Governor Polis is rated A+ by NORML, the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws.

[1]https://marijuanahealthinfo.colorado.gov/health-data/behavioral-risk-factor-surveillance-system-brfss-data

[2]https://marijuanahealthinfo.colorado.gov/health-data/healthy-kids-colorado-survey-hkcs-data

[3] https://us17.campaign-archive.com/?u=8c19b56d089ffb41f61475b71&id=7e46389639

[4] Rosenthal A, Reed J. Driving Under the Influence of Drugs and Alcohol.  Colorado Department of Public Safety, Division of Criminal Justice, Office of Research and Statistics, Nov 2020

[5] Federal Highway Administration, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/pubstats/

[6] Santaella-Tenorio J, Wheeler-Martin K, DiMaggio CJ et al. Association of Recreational Cannabis Laws in Colorado and Washington State With Changes in Traffic Fatalities, 2005-2017. JAMA Intern Med. Published Online June 22 (2020)

[7] Aydelotte JD, Mardock AL, Mancheski CA et al. Fatal crashes in the 5 years after recreational marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington. Accident Analysis and Prevention 132 (2019) 105284

[8] Kamer RS, Warshafsky S, Kamaer GC. Change in Traffic Fatality Rates in the First 4 States to Legalize Recreational Marijuana. JAMA Intern Med. Published Online June 22 (2020)

[9] Gorman T. The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact. Vol 6 Sept 2019. Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area

[10] Bui B, Reed J. Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol and Drugs. A Report Pursuant to HB 17-1315. July 2018. Colorado Division of Criminal Justice

What do left-wing and right-wing protesters share? – Use of marijuana

Belief in drug use seems to be common in those arrested

The FBI arrested Tim Gionet, also called “Baked Alaska,” for his involvement in the U.S. Capitol riot on January 6. Gionet is a far-right media personality. Gionet said he was given his nickname “because he is from Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time.”

Last summer, a police captain described the “blowing of marijuana smoke” into a Portland police building under seige.  Oregon has the most per capital pot shops of any state.   Certainly, the idea of free, open drug use played into the motivations behind CHOP, a police-free zone in Seattle.

Libertarian urges describe extremists on both sides, as they don’t care how drug use affects others. Looking into the background of some of the recent arrestees reveals the frequent involvement of marijuana or prior marijuana arrests.  In fact, anecdotal stories of lighting joints in the Capitol appeared in the news.

One man flashed a big smile and posed for cameras while holding Nancy Pelosi’s lectern. Could that smile reflect a marijuana high?  It turns out that he’s from Florida and his name is Adam Johnson.  He had a prior criminal history which includes “possession of marijuana and violation of probation charges.”

Another bold insurrectionist, Cleveland Meredith, came from Colorado to Washington, armed with weapons and high potency edibles.  “By his own admission, the defendant is a habitual user of marijuana and has a history of mental illness.” This statement comes from the government’s case for a pretrial hearing.  

Aymann Ismail, a reporter who covered the incident for Slate said, “When I was there in the riot, I saw aggressive instigators but also young people who were getting high, celebrating, and seemed to have no idea of what they’d done.”

What common policies do protesters on the left and right have in common?

Clearly protesters on both sides have diverse reasons behind their activities.  Those on the far left want to get rid of police, while those involved in the Capitol insurrection included paramilitary groups and police.

The left and right have some points in common, despite their differences.  Superficially, they’re very different, but delving into the issue more deeply shows deep alienation, something relieved by drug use, only to come back with a vengeance.

A BLM organizer and Proud Boys chapter leader came together for a podcast.  In the case of these two activists at the

Militant provocateurs with megaphones urging rally goers to “Breach the Capitol.”

opposite end of the political spectrum, they stand for: police and prison reform, concern about the housing problem, end sex trafficking, stop the endless wars abroad, challenge the two party system and end the drug war.

They don’t realize that the USA stopped using the term “war on drugs” more than 10 years ago.  The Drug Policy Alliance turned the war on drugs into a euphemism by convincing people that drug use is harmless. This ignorance causes so much damage, as drug use itself causes far more harm than government attempts to stop drug use.  

Another misunderstanding of these activists and their views is that we cannot have solve housing, homelessness problems or address police and prison reform until drug use in America goes down.  Drug use is going up, not down, which will lead to worse public health, and more rioting and restlessness.  

Whatever initial spiritual connection comes from common drug use, it rapidly breaks down and disintegrates, as happened during the Summer of Love in 1967.  

Provocations: Suppressed marijuana story (DAVID NEESE COLUMN)

New Jersey’s state government routinely ignores its complaining citizens. But can it ignore itself?

Published in The Trentonian, December 27, 2020.   A lawsuit challenging the legality of the recent state ballot question legalizing marijuana may answer that question.

The lawsuit declares that the state misled the public with the wording of the ballot question and ignored scientific evidence on the harmfulness of marijuana. It seeks to have the legalization declared “null and void.”

Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit, this much is clear beyond any dispute: New Jersey’s state government takes flagrantly contradictory positions on marijuana. Continue reading Provocations: Suppressed marijuana story (DAVID NEESE COLUMN)

HHS Data, Monitoring the Future data show troubling trends

Youth drug use increases in legalized states

State-level data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the most authoritative study on drug use conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA), found significant increases in youth marijuana use in several recently legalized marijuana states versus last year.  At the same time, mental illness indicators worsened across the country while alcohol, cocaine, and tobacco use dropped, especially among young people. Continue reading HHS Data, Monitoring the Future data show troubling trends