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Colorado sees more cannabis-related fatal crashes in 2019

091420 weed campaign

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Fatal car crashes caused by drivers impaired by marijuana are the highest they've been since 2016 and state officials say more drivers are admitting to driving high.

According to data collected by the Colorado Department of Transportation, 49 people died in Colorado car crashes that were caused by impaired driving from marijuana. "A lot of [cannabis users] have unfortunately told us that they think it's perfectly safe," says CDOT spokesperson Sam Cole. That's why CDOT is starting a new campaign to warn Coloradans about the danger of driving high. Cole says, “We think actually is going to help move the needle towards safety once it’s all said and done.”

The increase, something Colorado State Patrol has also seen. However, there are challenges law enforcement face when determining if someone is driving high since there is no breathalyzer for cannabis. Trooper Josh Lewis with CSP says troopers are trained to find out if someone is high by driving while conducting traffic stops.

"What's the driving like what has the driver told us, are they able to safely operate a motor vehicle and that comes down to the most important aspect of it," Lewis says. If they do suspect someone of driving high, they are given a blood test, and just like driving with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher, five nanograms or more of THC found in someone's blood also results in a DUI.

Even with those 49 fatal crashes, it doesn't come close to the number caused by alcohol. Fatal alcohol crashes make up a third of fatal crashes in the state.

Cannabis / Colorado Springs / Crime / Local News / State & Regional News

Chase Golightly

Chase is a reporter and an anchor for our weekend evening newscasts. Learn more about Chase here.

Comments

11 Comments

  1. “A lot of [cannabis users] have unfortunately told us that they think it’s perfectly safe,”
    .
    Users have been claiming it in this forum for years. The truth is that they’re simply unable to detect their own impairment.

    1. @RealityCheck:
      This is the same mentality that thinks it’s ok to drink and drive, just a different form of intoxicant. It’s a brazen careless selfish person to disregard everyone else for the sake of a good time.
      They need to develop better testing methods for cannabis intoxication, such as the side of the road test. These blood tests are a farce. I use cannabis for true pain, I smoked yesterday morning, IF I go to the store later today-by blood-I will be screamingly high. But I am in no way intoxicated. I can pass any test intellectual or physical. But based on blood I would get a felony DUI. The people they should be referring to would be people who could not pass that type of test, because they are truly shit-faced. Comparatively: In Colorado alone, over 900 people have been killed in alcohol-related accidents in the past six years.

      1. I agree with you, but I stand by the fact that most cannabis users can’t detect their own impairment. As for users such as yourself who use it for the most legitimate purposes, there needs to be a better way of measuring impairment. Frequent alcohol users also exhibit different degrees of impairment from people who over-imbibe less frequently. That’s why roadside sobriety tests were developed, to demonstrate the impairment to faculties rather than the quantity consumed. And they are more accurate in that respect than either a breathalyzer or a blood test. I believe that the law really should depend on the degree of impairment rather than the quantity consumed, but they haven’t yet found a definitive way of quantifying impairment that can be used in a court of law.

    1. As long as you have your coffee (caffeine), your headache pills, your anti-depressants, your smokes or your alcohol don’t sit and point fingers…….your just the same as everyone.

  2. 5 nano grams = 5 billionths of a gram. Is that really a reasonabe amount to be considered DUI and could that small be present in the blood/urine from usage day(s) before though the intoxicating affects have worn off?
    …..
    Inquiring minds would like to know.

    1. If you attended a smoke-filled event but didn’t even imbibe you’d still be “busted”, perhaps even several days later…

  3. You’d have to do your own test on your own body if you want to drive on a razors edge of illegal intoxication or not. Your advantage would be that your blood won’t be drawn immediately. Unlike alcohol where a common breathalyzer is the judge. THC breaks down into other compounds immediately. They’re testing you for THC, not its metabolites.

  4. Now go compare that to the number of dunk driving fatalities in 2019 (There have been 140 reported alcohol-related fatal accidents in 2019, killing 154 people)…the numbers don’t lie…..alcohol is still the leading killer! Back off the weed and focus on the one you have REPEATEDLY let get away!!!

    1. No one is arguing the fact that alcohol is worse. But there’s no reason to disregard another cause because of its less frequent occurrence. Weed is not being targeted at the expense of apprehensions for alcohol. The problem you’ve highlighted is with the laws that let repeat alcohol offenders get behind the wheel and drive, even though it’s illegal. Vehicle interlocks help with that, but people who insist on driving drunk aren’t going to let something as simple as that get in their way…

      1. Its just like alcohol in so much as the amount varies between people that will get them “high” their tolerance comes into play also, I have seen a person hit a joint one time and be incapacitated same with one beer/ shot as well that being said Canada Has a roadside test that is VERY effective but for some reason they have not brought it down here…..I think its because they wish to keep demonizing weed and cold hard facts would make that near impossible.

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