Skip to comments.More Accidents with Drugged Drivers As Medical Marijuana Use Grows
Posted on 07/04/2011 9:29:45 AM PDT by Signalman
Deadly repercussions have continued to accompany growing medical marijuana use in California. The Los Angeles Times reports on statistics showing the surging number of car accidents involving high drivers over the last decade, which local law enforcement attribute to the growing number of medical marijuana users:
The most recent assessment by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, based on random roadside checks, found that 16.3% of all drivers nationwide at night were on various legal and illegal impairing drugs, half them high on marijuana.
In California alone, nearly 1,000 deaths and injuries each year are blamed directly on drugged drivers, according to CHP data, and law enforcement puts much of the blame on the rapid growth of medical marijuana use in the last decade. Fatalities in crashes where drugs were the primary cause and alcohol was not involved jumped 55% over the 10 years ending in 2009.
While President Obama has gone from a hands-off approach to now pushing federal prosecution of anyone in the business of growing or supplying marijuana for medical patients, the medical marijuana movement continues to pick speed as now one third of all states allow such sales. The growing legality of medical marijuana seems mind-boggling considering most states dont even have a formal standard on the amount of the drug drivers should, if at all, be allowed to have in their blood.
While 13 states have adopted zero-tolerance laws, 35 states including California have no formal standard, and instead rely on the judgment of police to determine impairment.
Even the most cautious approach of zero tolerance is fraught with complex medical issues about whether residual low levels of marijuana can impair a driver days after the drug is smoked. Marijuana advocates say some state and federal officials are trying to make it impossible for individuals to use marijuana and drive legally for days or weeks afterward.
The call for a standardized system to judge impairment is debated by national leaders in law enforcement, as some feel the current system works well to identify impaired drivers, and any future legal limit or medical test would not bring about major change. However federal officials and local prosecutors argue that the lack of a standard makes convictions harder to obtain.
In October, a San Diego jury acquitted Terry Barraclough, a 60-year-old technical writer and medical marijuana user, on manslaughter charges in a fatal crash that occurred shortly after he had smoked marijuana.
A blood test showed he had high levels of active marijuana ingredients in his blood, but the jury heard conflicting expert testimony from toxicologists about the possible effects.
Martin Doyle, the deputy district attorney who prosecuted Barraclough, said the acquittal showed that the lack of a formal legal limit on marijuana intoxication makes such prosecutions tough.
Over 500,000 Americans currently use legal medical marijuana. Do you want to share the road with any of them?
Fascist. Pot never hurt nobody!/s
Gee, who didn’t see this coming?
I’m not even opposed to legalization but I knew this was coming. Watch how fast medical marijuana dispensary owners turn against legalization as a means of protecting their turf.
Even “Utopia” has to have some rules and is affected by human nature..
There have been millions of high drivers on the roadways for many years. This is now worthy of reporting because.......? Personally, I think we need to get the drunks off the road and then focus on the other potential problems.
I’m no fan of pot, and am far from a cheerleader for its use. I am, however, libertarian in my view that the government needs to stay the hell out of our lives. Articles like this seek to flame anger and result in kneejerk reactions from ignorant politicians.
If you take pain med, you really should not drive. For legal reasons and moral ones, a person just shouldn’t take that risk.
Medical marijuania falls into the same catagory.
Now certain other meds can make you a touch “woozy”, but as far as the law is concerned, nothing will bring the wrath down on you like taking a controlled substance and then God forbid get into an accident where someone is hurt.
I do agree that a standard, based on scientific study, is required to establish impairment. Just as a standard should be required for ALL substances known to cause impairment...like cough medicine, pain pills, tranquilizers, alcohol etc.
I also believe that objective observation of impairment should be required to be shown and attested to by any officer BEFORE a drug or alcohol test can be ordered.
The hell you say.
‘’What is it that makes people so unable to face reality that they have to be stoned, high or stupefied to get through the day?’’
Stoners and potheads. They've convinced themselves they are the darlings of society.
But, then, they're stoned.
‘Scientific standards’ for determining level of impairment is not there for road safety, it is there for slam dunk convictions. Reckless driving is a problem, distracting from that with a whole series of tests to determine impairment takes the focus away from the problem in the first place.
If you can’t drive straight, you shouldn’t be able to get away from it by blowing a low number in a tube. Or being able to touch your nose in a complicated series of instructions. A sleepy driver should face the same penalties as a drunk driver.
The continued creating of new classes of crime is the problem with our judicial system. End these ‘scientific standards’ and get back to actual probable cause for pulling someone over.
I shattered my wrist and was prescribed percocet for the first couple weeks afterwards. I decided to get in my car, because I didn't feel high. I didn't make it to the end of my street before I realized that the flow of things in my vision seemed altered.
Since I wasn't a sitting member of Congress and my name isn't Kennedy I decided to turn around and pull back in my driveway.
It would be helpful if the author had researched the total number of traffic fatalities (normalized for the population) and looked for a recent spike. It also would have been more honest if the author had given the total number of traffic fatalities in California so that we might have some perspective about 1000 pot related deaths. As it is, this smacks of a nanny stater adopting the misleading tactics of MADD for his own cause.
“Oh wow, man, like that’s not a freight train making for that crossing, man, I’ll just pull this lever and levitate my car to a higher consciousness and sail right over that train and on to the land of Honei-li and get my prescription refilled.......doobie doobie dee, dah dah dah dee dee....”
Well, I'm clean now, but you ought to experience some of our realities. I'm glad drugs existed because I would have been dead at my own hand back then. Hell, the drugs nearly did that -- and I would have considered that, success.
I never did opiate-based drugs, but I've heard that from addicts. It's weird: If you have legitimate pain, the opiates tend to go to the part of the brain that needs the pain relief. However, without the pain, the opiates go to the part of the brain that experiences a high. Very strange, and worthy of future study.
This is suspect, I have read studies that say pot makes drivers a little more less likely to wreck and they keep saying “drugs” as in more than just pot. By the standard applied here you are high for approximately one month from one joint, not true. Every pot smoking driver (of age) was driving high before med pot. I’m not a champion of pot but I am disgusted with the misinformation and flat out lies that seem to be in the discussion about it.The only things legalization has done is prevent people from being introduced to harder drugs from the same dealer and cut back on prison population. I am amazed at the “control” some conservatives want over the lives of others on this subject and it proves something to me, they to would sell out freedom for their cause. I’m sure I’ll get some nice posts to further prove that point.
Yep. The closest you get to a "high" is the incredible flood of relief you get when you realize that the group of little men who were trying to pry your knee cap off with red-hot screwdrivers have decided to join a union and become slackers.
Still your reflexes are slowed down to the point that driving is a really bad idea. On the road you have seconds to make choices, if you spend half of your allotted seconds realizing that you are in danger you are going to get in a crash. Stay home. Take a cab. Call a friend. It ain't worth it. And frankly you have no right to put other people in danger.
Apparently it alters one’s perceptions which is dangerous at 80 mph. Furthemore, it is addictive enough to produce a fanatic desire to legalize it in order to insure ready trouble free access. Look at the savage nature leveled by the users against those who condemn its use. Its use does something to the brain.
Probably not the whole story. Before medical marijuana had been approved anywhere, but marijuana was widely consumed, it was shown to almost never caused traffic accidents, *unless* it was in combination with alcohol, or to a much lesser extent, other drugs, or if the driver was involved in criminal evasion of the police.
The reason for this was widely understood to be based on the psychological effects of marijuana. Drivers generally drive *below* the speed limit, and are very cautious and careful about making maneuvers while driving. In short, they stay in the right lane and drive like grandmothers.
Some argument can be made that driving several miles below the speed limit can in its own right create a hazardous situation, if other drivers are, as a group, exceeding the speed limit by at least 10mph or more, and thus are also making sharp and inherently dangerous maneuvers with their vehicles. But this is a rationalization. A driver obeying the speed limit cannot control others who are not, yet he is not breaking the law, so should not be held accountable.
Even when someone is very inebriated with marijuana, the effect continues, until their vehicle is just creeping along, and they often pull over to take a nap.
So the preponderance of evidence is that there are other reasons for medical marijuana user accidents, at least until proven otherwise.
In ten years I am predicting California HOV lanes will only be allowed for illegal aliens, driving plug in electric cars, and smoking weed.
You won't get those kind of posts from me, because I totally agree with you.
I have always been in favor of legalizing pot and treating it like alcohol and tobacco, but I dropped my open support years ago, in part because of the attitudes of the legalization proponents toward smoking bans on tobacco, and especially those on this forum.
Agreed. (From a California native)
What happened to the garage door?
I do find one thing funny however; I bet the drug-warriors would freak out to find out how many close people to them use marijuana. "Not my friends or family, NEVER!". Well, see, that is a responsible marijuana user; because you will never know and nor should you. Its their business.
Wow, who’da thunk it?
I care. The people who grow and sell pot do a lot of damage to this country. Without people smoking it they wouldn’t have the market and wouldn’t be smuggling it in by the truckload.
Marijuana And Actual Driving Performance Executive Summary
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration By Robbe HWJ, O'Hanlon JF November 1993
Methinks the data is being skewed with expoential growth of cell phone/texting distractions, not 100% drug caused.
Thanks Signalman. Hey, who ate up all the BBQ chips? And all the leftovers in the fridge?
What is it that makes people think that “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?” type questions aren’t the most transparent Alinsky-style propaganda techniques?
While I could see that my perceptions were altered, I was still perceiving things enough to not hit anything.
I commend you for the care you took. Happy Independence Day.
“....but you ought to experience some of our realities....”
I’ll pass on that, maintaining a sound and balanced mind in these times is difficult enough.
Those drugs cause far more impairment and are far more dangerous than cannabis.
If you and a doctor agree that cannabis helps you, you should be allowed to use it responsibly. I just don't understand the argument of singling out this one plant when far worse has been legal for decades.
$. Billion$ and billion$ of $. Whores on both sides of the street will fight like demons to keep it.
>>> More Accidents with Drugged Drivers As Medical Marijuana Use Grows
Sounds reasonable. But on the other hand I’ve never heard of a brawl where one pothead smashes his baggie on the bar and with the sharp edges carves up the face of another pothead.
I understand that but I think when we let the debate fall to those who impose their opinions as fact, listen to distorted statistics, and find reason to suspend freedom and liberty behind any little rock we pay a heavier price. The same BS is used for global warming, gun control, TSA and more. FR could strip me if it wanted but my love of freedom far outweighs the people that make a living from pot laws and prisons or people that just don’t know the truth. I’d no more trade liberty for a FR membership than a WWF card.
I actually agree with everything you are saying. It’s probably about the only debate in regard to the freedom, liberty, and rights of which you speak I have walked away from on this site. HOwever, I have been burned so badly here in the past by some of those posters that I did it for self preservation and the fact I refused to defend those who would strip others of freedoms and liberty. Selfish, probably, but unlike the others, I don’t go on those threads and play tit for tat as I was subjected to for quite a few years here. I just stay out of the conversation most of the time.
If cultivation of pot were not a felony for even small amounts, most would grow it themselves. Then again, it takes a special sort of genius to ban the growing of plants and inflating the price to astronomical levels.
“Then again, it takes a special sort of genius to ban the growing of plants and inflating the price to astronomical levels.”
Some would grow it but not most. Most people don’t distill their own scotch or ferment their own wine.
The war on drugs is a failure, agreed. Drugs are an evil upon our society and legalizing them won’t help. I’ve seen the difference pot smoking has on people, you will never convince me that it is harmless.
Most people don’t moonshine because a) it’s pointless when you can go to the liquor store and get a ton of booze at a pretty cheap price and b) it’s a little more involved and risky than growing a plant. I believe stills can blow up in your face and if the booze isn’t made right you can go blind (or get sick or die or whatever) from drinking the stuff.
With pot, growing is pretty simple. Most people don’t do it because the laws against it are ridiculously harsh. In Colorado growing a single pot plant is a potential class 4 felony, which is the same class of felony as certain types of sexual assault, large scale theft, kidnapping, and other crimes that are actually like crimes. It’s absurd that growing a single pot plant in the eyes of the state is equivalent to sexual assault, but it is and that scares people off from growing.
If they made jaywalking a class 4 felony in this state, I probably wouldn’t do it. It wouldn’t make the law any less awful and it wouldn’t make the fact that someone could go to prison for it for 2=6 years any less a total travesty of justice, but I do guarantee it would cut down on jaywalkers.
I would never make the claim that pot smoking is “harmless.” But this country allows people to do a lot of things that are not harmless, and frankly, different people can do the same thing with varying degrees of harm to themselves. Not everyone who drinks is a violent stone cold alcoholic who gets the DTs when they aren’t drinking, and not every pot smoker is a Jeff Spicoli caricature living in his mother’s basement and not able to form a basic sentence in his head.
What they should be worried about.
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