Tag Archives: DUI

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

Think ya Know Is it Safe to Drive on Marijuana?

December is Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month.

* Reader discretion is advised, content describes details of violent crimes.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) helped wake up the country to the dangers of drunk driving. They succeeded in getting laws changed, nationwide in the United States. Now that four more states have legalized marijuana, what about stoned or high driving? Driving under the influence of a drug (DUID), is this something to be concerned about or, is it, as many stoners believe, people drive better while impaired?

A sobering video by PopPot.org

Download this meme to share and educate others!
Continue reading Think ya Know Is it Safe to Drive on Marijuana?

Marijuana DUI crashes in Illinois rise

Many recent crashes in Illinois suggest that pot users think it’s safe to drive after toking, or they simply don’t care.  Prior to the decriminalization of marijuana, Illinois experienced less than 1000 vehicle deaths each year.  In 2016, the year of marijuana decriminalization, traffic deaths rose to 1078. In 2017, 1091 people died from fatal crashes on Illinois roads, and 1038 died in 2018. 

With decriminalization, Illinois raised the marijuana limit from zero THC  to 5 ng of THC.   When politicians talk of decriminalization or legalization, they signal to the public a belief that pot is harmless.

On May 31, the day legislators passed a legalization bill, Erik McKay drove recklessly and killed a passenger, Continue reading Marijuana DUI crashes in Illinois rise

Rip the Pot Van Winkle wakes up

When I was 17 my BFF Lisa was in a single car accident.  She was prone to smoking bong hits and driving with her knees.  She was in a coma for a year and died.  I first smoked pot with her and her mom. Lisa was her only child. 

I blamed a faulty car for her death, not pot.

In my 30s, I partied with a young 20s co-worker from UMass.  She had smoked strong pot, AK-47 for years.  I stopped hanging out once she became paranoid, delusional and agoraphobic.  She later was in a mental hospital for schizophrenia and has been on disability ever since. 

I blamed her genes for her debilitating mental illness, not pot.

The rose colored glasses of denial.

I dated a patient,  also named Lisa, at the dispensary who had extreme psychotic episodes whenever she smoked high potency Sativa.  She would almost collapse, regress into a two-year-old state of mind, scream at the top of her lungs and then go into loud, joyous religious rapture singing.  

The scariest experience was when in psychosis she uttered in a guttural deep voice so unlike her’s, “Choke her!”  It was an alarming Sybil Stephen King moment that sent chills down my spine. I didn’t know if her split personality was talking about choking herself or me. 

Needless to say, it was very hard being with her, we were not a good match whatsoever and broke up.  I later learned that she committed suicide at 52. 

I blamed her diagnosis of bipolar for her suicide, not pot.

Rip the Pot Van Winkle

Bong rips: “A noun that refers to the action of smoking from a bong. So named for the sound that air makes when it bubbles through the bong water.”

One time in college my friends had too much water in a bong – really dirty, unchanged, high potency bong water.  The too high water level caused me to unintentionally swallow a huge mouthful of bong water when I released the carburetor.   
 
I immediately started to hallucinate, almost passed out.   Was lucky to stay conscious long enough to make it to the bathroom and vomit profusely.  Took a heck of a long time for my mind to clear and body to recover.  But I saw no problem with continuing to use pot.

For years I discounted all of those signposts showing that marijuana is dangerous  because I was so enmeshed in my pot denial.

When, finally, I experienced such terrible physical and mental effects myself, this Rip the Pot Van Winkle woke up out of a pot slumber.  The truth could no longer be denied. Horrible psychosis woke me up.  I am SO lucky I survived.

I had the epiphany that pot caused my BFF’s death via DUI; pot caused my friend to become schizophrenic, and pot caused psychosis and suicide with my ex-girlfriend.  Pot caused me to think violent thoughts like shooting people, and brought me to the brink of suicide.

Pot almost took me out.  I couldn’t perceive the damage because I was high on pot.  

By Anne Hassel,  a new friend of Parents Opposed to Pot.