I support the legalization (or at least decriminalization) of marijuana. I am, by no means, a crusader on the topic. I don’t even use the stuff. My opinion is one based in logic, reason, experience, and a firm reliance upon the individual liberty of all to govern their own behavior.
When I saw the title on this link, I just had to look. I just knew there would be demagoguery. I wasn’t disappointed.
The study draws its conclusions from statistics on more than 23,500 drivers who died within one hour of a crash between 1999 and 2010. The toxicology tests were performed on victims from six states including: California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia. While alcohol related traffic fatalities remained steady at 40% throughout the decade, drug related deaths soared from 16% in 1999 to a whopping 28% in 2010.
Significantly, the study cites marijuana use as the leading culprit for the swelling number of drug related traffic deaths, contributing to 12 percent of 2010 crashes. This represents a 300% increase compared with four percent in 1999. The study qualifies the pot statistics by emphasizing that because marijuana stays in the blood for up to one week, therefore, researchers said, “the prevalence of non-alcohol drugs reported in this study should be interpreted as an indicator of drug use, not necessarily a measurement of drug impairment.”
Not surprisingly, experts warned that combining alcohol and marijuana dramatically increases a driver’s risk of death. “If a driver is under the influence of alcohol, their risk of a fatal crash is 13 times higher than the risk of the driver who is not under the influence of alcohol,” Li said. “But if the driver is under the influence of both alcohol and marijuana, their risk increases to 24 times that of a sober person.”
There is no way to know if the marijuana was altering or impairing the judgment of the drivers in these accidents. THC stays in your system for a week, and the metabolites stay in your urine for up to a month (depending on a multitude of factors). The presence of THC in the blood stream shows only that the driver was a user, not that they were high when they crashed.