The Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) recently released their third annual marijuana legalization impact study. The recent data indicates that during the first year marijuana could legally be purchased at retail stores in Colorado, 94 people were killed in car accidents where a driver tested positive for any amount of marijuana.
Tom Gorman, director of HIDTA -the agency responsible for tracking drug activity in Colorado, Montana, Utah and Wyoming- reports an increase in marijuana-related fatal crashes. Their numbers, collected from coroners and law enforcement officials across the state, tell the story of an overall rise in deaths from 66 in 2011, 78 in 2012, to 71 in 2013.
Gorman points out that in 2009, when medical marijuana was legalized, only 10 percent of Colorado’s traffic fatalities were attributed to marijuana. Currently, that rate is 19 percent. Gorman ascribes the rise in marijuana-related traffic fatalities to a general increase in marijuana users since its legalization for recreational use.
The study further notes that the data used in 2014 tested for any level of THC above 1 nanogram, and anything above 2 nanograms of THC in 2012 and 2013.
In Colorado, a driver is considered impaired if their blood contains 5 nanograms or more of THC.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary mind-altering ingredient found in marijuana. THC stimulates brain cells to release dopamine, creating a euphoric sensation. In large doses, it can cause delusions and hallucinations, as well as interfere with the way the brain processes information.
Some people believe that if they are very careful they can still operate a motor vehicle safely after ingesting marijuana. However, the THC is capable of affecting their perception and experience of reality, as well as their judgement. There may be a notable discrepancy between their responses and actions and what is actually called for.
Generally speaking, THC can have the following effects:
- Impaired or compromised motor coordination
- Reduced information processing capacity
- Slower reaction times
- Impaired judgement
- Alterations in vision, hearing, and special perception
Because of its effects on cognitive and motor skills, a person impaired by THC has an increased chance of being responsible for an accident. It is recommended that even after consuming a small amount of marijuana, a person should not drive for a minimum of 5 hours.
Contact Our Denver Car Accident Attorneys
If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident in Denver, and you believe the driver responsible was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the accident – you need to contact an experienced Lakewood car accident attorney immediately. Call Lakewood attorney Robert Paysinger today to discuss your case. Our law firm offers FREE case consultations and can be reached at 303.279.0221.
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