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.
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