Medical Marijuana A Cause of Fatal Crashes?

November 3, 2011

- See all 31 of my articles


I wrote about medical marijuana and why it was hurting our community in March 2010. Now I have to report that some people dislike it so much that it made it on our November 2011 ballot. We voted this week whether or not to ban medical marijuana dispensaries. The campaigning for and against medical marijuana has been heated.

Those for medical marijuana focus on the few patients that truly “need” the drug. They have told a few stories of users that say they can’t function on a daily basis without it. I realize that some of the patients benefit from marijuana, but the majority of people with medical marijuana cards do not need it. It’s sad that the recreational users abusing the system have ruined this for the truly sick.

The item that those in favor of keeping the dispensary model fail to mention is one important fact. Users with medical marijuana cards would still be able to obtain medical marijuana from a licensed care giver. They are just not able to run into one of the 21 stores that have popped up in our city selling nothing but marijuana, glass, zigzags, brownies, etc.

Those against medical marijuana were armed with some very staggering figures. Law Enforcement officials revealed that since the opening of marijuana dispensaries there had been a 40% increase in marijuana related incidents in Fort Collins and a 20% increase in marijuana related incidents in unincorporated areas around Fort Collins. The Colorado Department of Transportation recently released a study indicating that there has been nearly a 50% increase in driving under the influence of drugs during that same time period.

More disturbing is this report from The Colorado Department of Transportation showing the changes in marijuana use in fatal accidents. In those fatal accidents, there has been an increase in the number of drivers that had used marijuana.

  • 2007 – 28%
  • 2008 – 43%
  • 2009 – 45%
  • 2010 – 58%

The school district in Fort Collins is the Poudre Valley School District. The school board for our district indicates that there has been a 300% increase in student expulsions in the school district since the start of dispensaries in our city. The school board wisely voted 5-0 to back the ban on dispensaries in Fort Collins.

Those 21 marijuana dispensaries if the new law passed would have 90 days to either find another place to move their business (away from Fort Collins) or close the doors. One of the businesses I located when searching Google lists the following marijuana strains and more:

  • Crimea Blue
  • Bubblicious
  • Red Cherry Berry
  • Sweet Tooth
  • Domina Haze

This really sounds like they are targeting patients dying of cancer, doesn’t it?

So, the question for Fort Collins voters came down to whether they would vote based on statistics that are very staggering or matters of emotion. Will the needs of the few patients that say they need medical marijuana outweigh the hundreds of thousands that have paid the $60 to someone that will rubberstamp their medical marijuana application? Well, votes are in and those recreational users that abused the system and all those statistics supplied by various areas of the government have won the voters over. Medical marijuana dispensaries are now banned in Fort Collins and medical marijuana will hopefully once again start moving back to something more like voters envisioned in 2000 when they passed the initial measure.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Some Name I Won't Remember
    Nov 07, 2011 @ 21:26:28

    Ban cars instead. Then the fatal crash rate will go down to zero.

    It is dangerous to drive under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, percocet, cell phones, and sleep deprivation. It is dangerous whether you took the percocet to quell the pain of terminal cancer or because you were bored and it was Saturday night. Unless you want to also ban cell phones, alcohol, all narcotics and other sedating medications (which includes everything from antihistamines to anesthesia) then you’re going to have to deal with the possibility of people driving impaired in some way. Why is marijuana more of a problem than anything else in that regard?


  2. Zarberg
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 12:46:22

    Alcohol is a much more addictive, destructive, and imparing drug, yet that’s still allowed. See one of my first articles on the issue:

    In addition, for every one of your “staggering” statistics, I could find one from a European country that has legalized or decriminalized marijuana that show their crime and accident rates went down.


  3. Squeaky
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 14:23:26

    I’m not debating the impairment facts of alcohol. I think we’re all mature enough to recognize that. I’m strictly talking about the impact of creating a legal way for casual users to obtain and use marijuana and what those effects are.

    I’d love to see a stastic from a European country that says after implementing a medical marijuana program or legalizing it that incidents related to MMJ at school actually drop. Of course, if you showed me a stastic that opposed these, it would likely just reinforce the fact we (as American’s) are irresponsible with marijuana and likely aren’t mature enough to handle this. I still think that if we’re going to have some mmj program it needs to be handled like any other prescription, administered through a pharmacy, the growing needs to be regulated and the days of getting a 6 month mmj card for an ear ache need to be gone.


  4. kosmo
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 14:55:01

    Oh, boy.

    You’re going to hate me, Squeaky. We need to take a closer look at those eye popping stats.

    2007: 17% of drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for drugs. 28% of those who tested positive for drugs tested positive for marijuana – not 28% of all drivers in fatal crashes. Likewise, those other figures represent percentages of the driver who tested positive for drugs tested positive for marijuana.

    If you want the pecentage of all drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, it is:

    2007: 23/554 = 4.1%
    2008: 31/548 = 5.7%
    2009: 37/465 = 8.0%
    2010: 32/448 = 7.1%

    Still a considerable upstick, but not quite as eye popping.


  5. Squeaky
    Nov 08, 2011 @ 22:08:08

    Hey Kos…no hate. I read through all of the DOT stats and noticed that but I used them as they presented them. No biggie. It doesn’t take away from the trend or the message that they are trying to deliver===Making marijuana easier to get results in an increase in the number of drivers involved in fatal accidents having marijuana in their system.


  6. kosmo
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 08:45:37

    Hmm. When I first read your article, I thought you were quoting those stats are being the percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who who tested positive for marijuana. However, after further review, you don’t draw that link.

    One thing to note is that you should expect an increase proportional to the increase of marijuana users, even if there is no causation (and I’m not suggesting this is the case). If you double the population of marijuana users, it’s twice as likely that a marijuana users would be the victim of some sober guy running a green light at 80 mph. I’m sure the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashing who were wearing LiveStrong bracelets grew rapidly as the popularity of those bracelets grew – even though there is no causal effect.

    The next step would be to have someone split apart the causal and non-causal portions to determine the true effect.


  7. zarberg
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 17:10:49

    My whole issue is why restrict it to JUST medical use? There’s never been a study (that I’m aware of and wasn’t skewed by the government from the early part of the 20th century) to show weed is any more dangerous than alcohol when any given individual was impared with either.

    As a nation we’ve shown we can’t even handle alcohol, though, and since prohibition was such an amazing success, I don’t think the option of banning both is going to fly. Rather than sit in this stupid middle ground of allowing alcohol but restricting its use and having huge penalties for abuse combined with driving, but demonize and outlaw the majority of marijuana use, why not come up with a happy medium that applies to both? Weed is legal as long as you’re over 21, just like booze. Get caught driving while high and the penalties are just as bad as driving while drunk.

    One thing is almost certain, though, legalize weed and you’re stopping a lot of deaths along the US border, in US inner cities, and in the grow/transit areas of Mexico. Would the lives saved outweigh the deaths caused by increased traffic accidents? I have no stats, but my gut says yes, by a long shot.


  8. Squeaky
    Nov 12, 2011 @ 09:52:29

    @Zarberg…I totally understand that perspective and it’s not ALL bad. However, you’re saying that we can’t handle alcohol as a society, right? So why would we want to add one more weapon to the repertoire?

    I think people focus on the medical aspect of the drug as a means of justification. Granted, if alcohol were in the same position today there would be no worthwhile argument to legalize it either. The difference is that it (alcohol) is already on the books and I don’t see any way it will be removed.

    I also believe that one day your vision of legalization may happen, but not right now. As a society, there are enough people that haven’t used it and have no idea about how it effects the body. I believe that it will happen in our lifetime, but not before you and I are old (OK, I’m already old but you have a few years) and grey (more grey on my part).

    I don’t agree that legalizing it will save lives, but that’s a matter of opinion. I think to save those lives on the boarder it will take legalizing more than just marijuana. Are you ready to add others to that list of legal drugs?

    My last thought is that if legalization happens, it needs to happen on the federal level. The Colorado state MMJ law is at odds with the federal law. Recently the DOJ has said that anyone with a marijuana card is not eligible to purchase firearms. This probably isn’t a big deal to you (I’m making an assumption based on the little I know about you) but to many Colorado residents, it’s a very big deal. This state still has a little bit of the wild, wild west in it. Also, there are contentions between the DEA and growers and users here. There is an agreement that they won’t arrest MMJ card holders, but that has been very tense and not always adhered to. Legalization would also remedy that issue.



  9. Medical Marijuana
    May 02, 2012 @ 13:25:13

    I totally agree with the author.

    The pecentage of all drivers in fatal crashes who tested positive for marijuana, it is:

    2007: 23/554 = 4.1%
    2008: 31/548 = 5.7%
    2009: 37/465 = 8.0%
    2010: 32/448 = 7.1%

    Really surprised to see the figure increasing.


  10. sezan pull
    Oct 11, 2014 @ 21:21:26

    @Zarberg…I fully know that viewpoint as well as it’s not all bad. Even so, you’re expressing we can’t cope with alcohol as being a culture, right? So why would certainly we would like to increase another artillery to the repertoire?

    I believe individuals target the actual health-related element of the actual substance as an approach of approval. Naturally, when alcohol ended up inside similar place these days generally there can be no rewarding disagreement in order to legalize this sometimes. Your change will be so it (alcohol) has already been within the guides as well as We don’t observe in any manner will probably be removed.

    We in addition feel that eventually the perspective of legalization can happen, but not at this time. As a culture, you will find plenty of people who haven’t employed this as well as do not know about how this effects our bodies. I really believe so it will happen in your life-time, but not when you as well as We tend to be previous (OK, I’m previously previous however there is a couple of years) as well as off white (more off white with the part).

    We don’t concur in which legalizing it’ll help save existence, however that’s a make any difference of view. I believe just to save individuals existence within the boarder it will take legalizing a lot more than simply just pot. Are you ready to incorporate other people to that particular directory authorized medications?

    My own past considered will be that if legalization transpires, it to occur within the national levels. Your Co point out MM J rules reaches probabilities using the national rules. Not too long ago the actual DOGE possesses claimed in which you aren’t a pot greeting card seriously isn’t permitted invest in gun. This kind of most likely isn’t a big deal for you (I’m making a great premiss while using small I know with regards to you) however to many Co inhabitants, it’s an extremely major package. This kind of point out nonetheless possesses a modest amount of the actual outdoors, outdoors western from it. Also, you will find contentions between DEA as well as farmers as well as end users the following. There is certainly a great contract that they can won’t public arrest MMJ greeting card members, however that was very tense rather than often honored. Legalization would certainly in addition solution in which issu.


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