Medical Marijuana A Cause of Fatal Crashes?

November 3, 2011

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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.


The Case Against Medical Marijuana

March 31, 2010

- See all 31 of my articles


English: Medical marijuana neon sign at a disp...

Image via Wikipedia

This is not going to discuss energy savings, shutting down oil refineries or offshore drilling.  In this case, Going Green is referring to Cannabis Sativa, Mary Jane, Blunts, Roaches, Joints, Spliffs, Bongs, THC, Bob Marley, yes….marijuana.

California has captivated headlines by saying that they’re going to place an initiative on their ballot to legalize marijuana.  This is happening even as numerous states are running into numerous problems with their Medical Marijuana laws.

Some of you know that I live in Colorado.  Colorado has a Medical Marijuana law and it has exploded in use over the last couple of years.  There are currently more marijuana dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks and they continue to pop up.  Each night on the news I hear stories about another robbery or burglary happening at another marijuana dispensary.  Cities across the state are now scrambling for ways to better regulate these facilities.

A very basic question that I have is this.  THC, the ingredient in marijuana that people are smoking it for, is available in pill form already.  Why then do we need to have smoked marijuana available with all the problems that it brings?  Marinol is a prescription medicine that can be prescribed by a doctor and dispensed from a controlled pharmacy.

I live in a suburban neighborhood in Fort Collins, CO that is filled with middle to upper middle income families.  Crime is essentially non-existent and the homes are all single family dwellings filled with families that have roughly 2.54 kids each.  The only crime other than an occasional vehicle break-in was an armed Home Invasion Robbery.  What prompted this to happen?  The two residents of the home are medical marijuana patients.  When the masked gunmen forced their way into the home they asked for one thing:  marijuana.  They didn’t want money or electronics…just the drugs.

Denver (in 2010) passed a new ordinance that requires all dispensaries to have a special license.  It requires applicants to complete a background check, submit dispensary diagrams, security plans and pass zoning/fire inspections.  This is significant because dispensaries have been popping up next to schools and in residential areas where other businesses could not be located.  Can you imagine a marijuana dispensary opening in the home next to yours?

On January 31, 2010 Christian Thurston published an article in the Denver Post entitled Smoke and Mirrors.  Christian is the Medical Director of a substance abuse treatment program in Denver.  Christian provided an example of a 19 year old being treated for “Severe Addiction”.  This 19 year old walked in to dispensary, gave them $300 and discussed his depression with a “doctor”.  He was then given a medical marijuana card.  One pregnant woman was given a marijuana card to smoke because of her nausea.  Yes, she was told to smoke marijuana during the pregnancy.

We have people showing up to work stoned and claiming no foul because the marijuana was “prescribed” for them.  We have 18 year olds obtaining a license to smoke joints daily for an ear ache, depression, etc.

When the people of Colorado passed this law, the thought was that this would be an alternative to people with debilitating illnesses another option for treatment.  We did not think that this was going to be an epidemic of hippies and teens look for a legal way to get their fix.

There are other states in the same situation and others contemplating placing similar marijuana laws on the ballots.  Hopefully, they will plan ahead better than the State of Colorado has and only put the law on the books when they’re prepared to handle all the problems that come with the law.What needs to change?

  1. More stringent guidelines to obtain a medical marijuana card.
    • Conditions like ear aches should not be included
    • If they aren’t going to be more specific, then legalize marijuana so we can hopefully get past the crime that has come with the law
  2. Better zoning regulations so we don’t have dispensaries set up next to each other, located in residential areas or near schools.
  3. Mandatory security in these dispensaries to reduce violent robberies and burglaries.
  4. Better definitions of a caregiver and restrictions on growing quantities.  This too is turning residential neighborhoods into marijuana farms.
  5. Dispensing marijuana should be done through a controlled environment like a pharmacy, not the corner house where Guido is set up.
  6. Better education of patients
    • This does not give them the right to smoke and drive
    • This does not give them the right to smoke then go to work and operate a forklift
  7. The granting of a medical marijuana card should require the prescribing doctor to visit with the patient’s Primary Care Physician and thoroughly review the patient’s medical history.  Is there a history of drug abuse?  Is this appropriate therapy for the combination of their conditions?

Following the passing of the new healthcare system, it will be interesting to see if we will now begin covering the cost of medical marijuana.  Will Little Johnny down the street be able to walk into the local dispensary, choose from Raspberry flavored marijuana and have us pick up the tab?


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