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Legalized marijuana linked to a sharp rise in car crashes

10/18/18--There has been an increase by up to 6 percent in the number of highway crashes in four of the states where the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized, according to a pair of new studies. According to David Harkey, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Highway Loss Data Institute, the new reports do not prove there’s a direct risk caused by the use of marijuana among motorists, but they raise caution flags. Read 

States with legal marijuana see rise in car crashes, studies find

10/19/18--Car crashes were up as much as 6 percent in states where the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized. According to research from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, the frequency of collision claims filed to insurers were higher in four states where marijuana is legal: Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Read

Uncertainty over effectiveness of test for marijuana impaired driving

9/26/18--With marijuana legalization less than a month away, uncertainty remains around the effectiveness of a drug testing device called the Drager DrugTest 5000 used to test for marijuana impaired driving. Although it has been approved by the federal government, there are reports showing the machine gives inaccurate readings in other countries where it’s currently in use. Read

Marijuana use among drivers killed in crashes doubled from 2007 to 2015

8/16/18--NHTSA, an organization with a mission to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes through education, research, safety standards, and enforcement reports marijuana use among drivers killed in crashes doubled from 2007 to 2015. The organization also states that if you feel different, you drive different. Read

Driving stoned: Massachusetts standard needed

8/9/18--State public safety officials are viewing stoned driving as a major problem. They may be doing their best to head it off, but without changes in the law, their best won’t be good enough. With medical marijuana already on the scene and the first recreational pot shops being licensed, the case for keeping drugged drivers from getting behind the wheel has grown more urgent. Read

The pot breathalyzer is here. Maybe

8/4/18--As legalization of recreational and medical marijuana continues to expand, police across the country are more concerned than ever about stoned drivers taking to the nation's roads and freeways, endangering lives. Now one California company claims it has made a major breakthrough in creating what some thought of as a unicorn: a marijuana breathalyzer. The device also doubles as an alcohol breathalyzer, giving police an easy-to-use roadside for both intoxicants. Read

Laws allowing medical marijuana have little impact on roadway safety

7/24/18--State laws that allow the use of medical marijuana are not significantly associated with cannabis-involved driving, according to a new study by Georgia State University associate professor of criminal justice and criminology Eric Sevigny. Neither are those laws that allow for specific supply provisions, including home cultivation and unlicensed or quasi-legal dispensaries. Sevigny encourages states and policymakers considering the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana to use this research and employ proactive laws and tactics. Read

California proposes zero tolerance policy for underage drivers on marijuana

2/22/18--A recently introduced piece of legislation in California's State Senate is targeting Golden State teenagers and young adults as a way to combat wider concerns about stoned drivers, despite a lack of accepted science or data supporting the bill. Senate Bill 1273 (SB1273), introduced by State Senator Jerry Hill, D - San Mateo, would create a zero tolerance policy for cannabis use by California drivers under the age of 21. The bill would give law enforcement officers the ability enforce a one year driver's license suspension for any minor who fails a roadside cannabis test, no matter when they last consumed the now-legal plant. Read

Some states put a THC limit on pot-smoking drivers — Here’s why California doesn’t

12/31/17--California will not set a THC level limit for determining marijuana DUIs when pot legalization laws take full effect Monday with the first sales of recreational cannabis in some cities. California’s decision to keep the DUI laws unaltered is a departure from the first states to legalize recreational cannabis. Washington and Colorado have amended their laws to set marijuana limits that carry varying degrees of weight in court. Read

A California company believes it has invented a viable marijuana breathalyzer

12/28/17--Hound Labs has developed a breathalyzer than can detect levels of THC. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that causes the “high” feeling. The company argues that THC levels in the breath are the best indication of impairment from marijuana. Hound Labs is testing the third and potentially final version of the machine now. Read

Colorado universities using IPods to study how cannabis dabs affect driving

12/8/17--In an effort to learn how cannabis use affects driving, Colorado's two major universities are studying the change in a driver's balance, movement ability, and reaction time after consuming pot – but to better mirror consumption trends, the study uses subjects who just smoked something much more potent than the schwag our parents grew up with. Read

New Poll Shows Americans Consider Texting More Dangerous Than Marijuana While Driving

11/28/17--A new survey conducted by Harris Poll reveals ninety-one percent of Americans believe driving while under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. However, just 40 percent of respondents believe driving while high is a contributing factor to more motor vehicle accidents. Despite marijuana's effect on a person's motor functions, more Americans think using social media and texting while driving is more dangerous than driving under the influence of marijuana. Read

National 2016 Fatal Crash Data shows marijuana involvement at 18%, drug at 40%, and DUI at 27%

11/21/17--For drivers tested in the last 5 years, drug involvement is up 173%, and marijuana is up 95%. According Phillip Drum, coauthor of the report, the large increase of marijuana found in fatal crashes, from 9.3% in 2011 to 18.2% in 2016, shows an awful trend that suggests that soon the marijuana fatal crash percentage will be higher than alcohol, if it is not already in some states.” Read

Response to marijuana column shows dangerous attitudes about stoned driving

10/24/17--In response to an op-ed expressing the lack of a reliable and cost-effective field test for police to assess the impairment level of marijuana-using drivers, many readers took umbrage with the cited statistic stating a 48 percent jump in weed-related traffic deaths in Colorado after full legalization there in 2014, according to a federal study. Critics of the study call it misleading and question the neutrality of the agency behind it. Read

There is one problem with legalizing marijuana in New Jersey, and it’s massive

10/16/17--If New Jersey fully legalizes marijuana under the next governor, one major problem is that there is no reliable, efficient field test for stoned driving. The vast majority of studies indicate weed impairs drivers, albeit to varying degrees. When coupled with even a modest amount of alcohol, the effect is notably more severe. According to Cathleen Lewis, director of public affairs for AAA Northeast, the best remedy is education, and that starts with shooting down the big lie pushed by some marijuana advocates. Read

Here’s an important reason why you should never, ever smoke pot and drive

10/12/17--Over a 10-year period, the percentage of total auto fatalities where drivers tested positive for pot increased from 6 percent to just over 20 percent. A past study published in Clinical Chemistry found that marijuana can interfere with driving, and increase chances of risky behaviors like lane weaving, steering issues, and late braking. It can also trigger changes in mental processing, which can make driving problematic. Read

Smoking marijuana and driving: 33% of teens think it’s legal. Some think it isn’t dangerous

10/12/17--According to a new study, 88% of teens think driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous, while just 68% said driving under the influence of marijuana is dangerous. Equally disturbing, 39% of people in states where marijuana is legal said they feel comfortable getting in the driver’s seat within two hours of smoking or consuming marijuana, according to a study of 600 residents by used car dealer Instamotor. Marijuana can stay in a person's system for days to weeks, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Read

Random drug tests after DUI arrest ruled unconstitutional by Washington Supreme Court

10/5/17--Requiring people who are arrested for driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of release is unconstitutional, the Washington Supreme Court ruled. “Urinalysis is at least as invasive as a roadblock or a pat down search,” the Supreme Court said, concluding that court-ordered testing “constitutes an acute privacy invasion by the state.” Read

Marijuana & driving: Experts struggle to find ways to measure, assess impairment

10/1/17--The number of fatal Washington crashes involving drivers with marijuana in their system rose to 79 last year — more than double that of 2012 when voters legalized its recreational use. However, experts caution the statistics focus only on fatal crashes and don’t provide a complete picture of the impact pot is having on road safety. No statewide data is kept on serious injury accidents involving marijuana because of reporting inconsistencies by local police agencies, according to the safety commission. Researchers are studying if current methods of testing for marijuana impairment and whether the current legal limit of THC in a person’s system is an accurate assessment of impairment. Read

The device that can sniff out the weekend drug-takers

9/1/17--Researchers have created the first portable drugs test that detects if someone has been using illegal substances in less than ten minutes. The Reader 1000 can accurately test for four main drug groups - cocaine, opiates, cannabis, and amphetamine metabolites. The fingerprint sample takes five seconds to collect and generally gives results in less than ten minutes. Created by Cambridge-based company Intelligent Fingerprinting, the device could also be used by companies where drug abuse affects people's ability to work. Read

Is is safer to drive high than drunk?

8/25/17--A recent Colorado Department of Transportation survey found that 72 percent of Colorado cannabis consumers thought it was safer to drive under the influence of marijuana than under the influence of alcohol. This survey also found that more than half of the 92 cannabis-using respondents drove within two hours of consuming marijuana. An equal percentage believed they could safely drive under the influence of marijuana. Read

Exclusive: Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado

8/25/17--The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time, federal and state data show. A Denver Post analysis of the data and coroner reports provides the most comprehensive look yet into whether roads in the state have become more dangerous since the drug’s legalization. Authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot. Read

MADD manager says legalization of marijuana is going to create significant issues

7/23/17--The regional manager of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) says the legalization of marijuana next year is going to create a whole new challenge for law enforcement, and governments need to act soon. She said police need an approved instrument to detect drugs, and MADD Canada has made a recommendation. Read

Recreational marijuana linked to increase in vehicle collisions

7/24/17--A new analysis conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI), shows that Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have about a three percent higher rate of collision claim frequencies than would have been expected without legalization of recreational marijuana. HLDI’s analysis provides a preview of what the legalization of marijuana may mean for highway safety as more states legalize its use. Read

Driver was 54 times over legal limit for marijuana

7/18/17--A Lynnwood man arrested after a hit-and-run along I-5 in Shoreline in May was later found to have had 54-times the legal limit of marijuana in his system, according to Washington State Patrol. The results of the test were delivered in July and showed the 53-year-old had 270 nanograms of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) in his system. The legal limit in Washington state is 5 nano grams. Read

Scientists lay the groundwork for a reliable marijuana breathalyzer

7/6/17--An important step has been taken toward a reliable marijuana breathalyzer by measuring the vapor pressure of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) -- a measurement that, due to the compound's chemical structure, is very difficult and has not been accomplished before. Read

California passes ‘open container’ law for pot

6/28/17--California’s governor recently signed into law a package of measures intended to aid police and prosecutors in addressing drugged driving prior to the state’s plans to make recreational marijuana legal in 2018. With recreational legalization on the horizon, California is attempting to pre-empt the myriad problems Colorado and Washington, which both legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, have encountered. Read

Does marijuana increase the risk of vehicle crashes?

6/27/17--While decades of research have shown that alcohol increases the risk of vehicle crashes, marijuana research is mixed. Yet, it still points toward some effect of the drug on driving ability and crash risk. As a result, some researchers urge caution. Read

New Virginia law changes punishment for marijuana possession

6/26/17--As a result of new laws going into effect in Virginia, more people will be able to keep their driver’s license after being charged with marijuana possession. It will allow a judge to opt for additional community service instead of automatically suspending someone’s driver’s license for six months. HB 2051 / SB 1091 impacts adults who were not operating a vehicle at the time of the offense. Read

What marijuana legalization did to car accident rates

6/26/17--Last week, a pair of studies came to seemingly opposite conclusions on whether rising marijuana use is causing an increase in car crashes in states that have legalized the drug. On the one hand, a finding that legalization led to a small but significant increase in crashes. On the other, a study concluding that legalization had no effect on fatal crashes at all. However, the two don't necessarily contradict each other because the studies measured slightly different things. It seems plausible that legalization could lead to a slight increase in minor accidents that don't prove fatal. Read

Marijuana tied to more Colorado collisions but not fatalities, pair of studies says

6/26/17--Two new studies receiving a flurry of news coverage appeared contradictory: An insurance-industry nonprofit found that collision claims had increased in states that legalized marijuana compared to others, while a paper published in an academic journal found no link between legalization and traffic fatalities. Yet, according to Morgan Fox, senior communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, the studies aren't necessarily conflicting because they were looking at two different things: collisions and fatal accidents. Fox further expresses that the problem is they both attempt to show a causation where one doesn’t exist. Read

Two U.S. studies differ over effects of marijuana on drivers

6/22/17--A study by the American Journal of Public Health and another study by the Highway Loss Data Institute examined the effects of marijuana on drivers in states where it is allowed for recreational use. Both studies came to different conclusions about whether it increases risks behind the wheel. Read

Crash claims up 2.7 percent in first states to legalize pot

6/22/17-- A recent insurance study links increased car crash claims to legalized recreational marijuana. The Highway Loss Data Institute, a leading insurance research group, said in study results that collision claims in Colorado, Washington, and Oregon went up 2.7 percent in the years since legal recreational marijuana sales began when compared with surrounding states. Read

New CCSA-Led study estimates cost of driving under the influence of cannabis in Canada to be $1 billion

6/8/17--The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released “Estimating the Harms and Costs of Cannabis-Attributable Collisions in the Canadian Provinces,” the first study of its kind to estimate the social and economic costs associated with driving under the influence of cannabis (DUIC) in Canadian provinces. The CCSA-led study estimates $1 billion in costs associated with DUIC deaths, injuries, and property damage only collisions, with particularly high rates of harm among youth and young adults between the ages of 16–34. Read

Mixing booze, pot is a serious threat to traffic safety

6/12/17--Use of marijuana in combination with alcohol by drivers is especially dangerous, according to a latest study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. Drivers who used alcohol, marijuana, or both were significantly more likely to be responsible for causing fatal two-vehicle crashes compared to drivers who were involved in the same crashes but used neither of the substances. The findings are published in the journal, Annals of Epidemiology. Read

Marijuana bill approved in the Reno Senate awaiting to be a law

6/11/17--The state of Nevada has been studying a bill that changes the current way of screening apprehended DUI for marijuana usage. Instead of the traditional urine testing, this bill suggests that a blood sample is collected for pot testing to yield more accurate results. It will be up to Governor Brian Sandoval to solidify the deal on creating this bill into a full blown law. Read

Drug-recognition experts gain importance as pot DUIs increase

6/3/17--As the number of arrests for driving under the influence of drugs grows, Southern California law enforcement agencies are scrambling to train officers as drug recognition experts, and provide advanced certification in which they learn how to recognize symptoms of seven categories of drugs in order to testify in court. However, attorneys who defend drivers accused of driving under the influence of drugs say the science behind the drugged-driving tests is questionable, and the drug-recognition specialists are not the experts that law enforcement makes them out to be. Read

States waking up to spike in marijuana‑related crash fatalities

5/24/17--Research shows that increasing rates of marijuana use have resulted in an increased rate of car crash fatalities. It is a problem that many proponents for legal adult use of recreational marijuana wish to pretend does not exist, while others are actively advocating for more research to enable better tools to detect marijuana-impaired drivers. Read

Researchers need volunteers to smoke marijuana for study

5/20/17--Researchers at Washington State University are looking for volunteers for a study to develop a breathalyzer that detects marijuana use. In accordance with Washington state law volunteers must be at least 21-years-old to participate in the study. Read

Logan Kitzhaber used marijuana, three medications before 2016 crash

5/26/17--Logan Kitzhaber, the son of former Gov. John Kitzhaber, tested positive for marijuana, two prescription medications, and another medication the day he sideswiped a motorhome last summer and sent two people to the hospital. Kitzhaber was arrested and charged with DUI, reckless driving, criminal mischief, four counts of assault, and two counts of reckless endangerment. A grand jury indicted Kitzhaber, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Read

Dutch police may test motorists’ saliva for marijuana, cocaine, and speed

5/25/17--Dutch police may begin testing the saliva of drivers and people involved in violent crimes for drugs when new zero-tolerance rules come into effect on beginning July 1. The saliva test can be used to find out if people have taken opiates, cocaine, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana), and methamphetamines. Although this test identifies whether there are drugs in the system, it cannot say how much or when the drug was taken, which needs to be established to find out if someone has broken road safety laws. Read

Nevada’s new DUI marijuana testing is improvement but still poses concerns

5/12/17--The state of Nevada is poised to mandate the use blood tests and eliminate urine tests in DUI convictions for marijuana. The state Senate this week gave the final vote of approval for the testing change for the entire state. However, according to a study by the AAA, the nations largest auto club, determining marijuana impairment is more complicated than determining alcohol impairment. This bill may be an improvement over the old method, but AAA believes it is still not a great way to test for marijuana intoxication. Read

Lawmakers pass bill to change DUI testing for marijuana

5/12/17--Lawmakers passed a bill that could change what DUI testing looks like in the Nevada. AB 135 aims to outlaw urine testing for driving under the influence of pot because research shows urinalysis does not account for the two ingredients in the drug that are psychoactive. If the bill becomes law, drivers will have to submit to a blood test if they are suspected of DUI. Read

Nevada lawmakers back blood-only detection of marijuana DUIs

5/5/17--Lawmakers advanced a measure to eliminate urine samples as a viable measure for police to show a driver to be impaired by marijuana. Under the bipartisan proposal, law enforcement officers would continue using blood tests to prove a person was illegally operating a passenger car, commercial truck, or boat while high. The bill would retain specific legal limits set in 1999 for drivers’ blood content of THC, the psychoactive chemical in pot. Anyone with a blood-THC level at or above 5 nanograms per milliliter is considered too high to drive. Read

Drug-impaired driving: a guide for states, 2017 update

4/27/17--To confront the complex and evolving issue of drugged driving, GHSA and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility have produced a comprehensive update of their 2015 report about drug use on our nation’s roadways. Drug Impaired Driving: A Guide for States equips states and policymakers with the latest research, data, laws, and programs to help them address this growing problem. Read

For the first time, drug use more likely than alcohol in fatal crashes

4/26/17--For the first time, statistics show that drivers killed in crashes are more likely to be on drugs than drunk. Forty-three percent of drivers tested in fatal crashes in 2015 had used a legal or illegal drug, eclipsing the 37 percent who tested above the legal limit for alcohol, according to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. Read

2016 Mail Survey about Driving Behaviors

3/5/17--This report outlines the results of the 2016 mail survey conducted by National Research Center, Inc., on behalf of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This survey assesses Colorado residents’ attitudes and behaviors related to seat belt use, speeding, distracted driving and alcohol, marijuana and prescription medication use. Read

Why two medical students want to change Nevada’s DUI marijuana law

3/3/17--Tuoro University students Graham Lambert and Charles Cullison presented their research on marijuana DUI testing to the Nevada Assembly's Judiciary Committee, who may change state law based on the pair's class project. Mostly everyone at the hearing agreed it was a step forward. The amendment to existing law would standardize testing of drivers so that law enforcement officials could only use blood tests to determine whether a driver is high. Urine and saliva tests both would be eliminated. Read

Should you tell Uber your driver was high?

3/1/17--According to a New York Times published response about whether or not a passenger should report an Uber driver who appears to be under the influence of marijuana, Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of “Cosmopolitanism” and “The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen," states that the Uber driver's livelihood shouldn't be put at risk simply on a hunch. If the driver was driving badly, however, that’s something that should be reported without mentioning a hypothesis about the marijuana. Read

Driving test highlights challenges for Mass. lawmakers

2/7/17--A series of driving tests involving volunteers under the influence of marijuana revealed a wide range of effects on drivers, based on their tolerance for the drug and other factors. While some of the drivers experienced relatively minor problems after smoking increasing amounts of marijuana, at least one driver was involved in the equivalent of a potentially deadly crash, according to professional observers. Read

Determining stoned driving a thorny issue

1/8/17--Concerns about marijuana-impaired driving and the difficulties in proving marijuana intoxication are likely 2017 agenda items for lawmakers seeking public-safety changes to the marijuana legalization law approved by voters in November. Science has not yet produced a measure of marijuana intoxication on par with the blood-alcohol-content tests, which provide reliable readings of someone's sobriety or drunkenness. Read

States with medical marijuana laws have fewer traffic fatalities

12/31/16--States that passed medical marijuana laws have seen an 11% reduction in traffic fatalities on average, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The most likely takeaway from this study is that medical marijuana laws are helping to decrease alcohol-related traffic fatalities among the age groups at highest risk, but other parts of this study don’t neatly line up behind any single conclusion. Read

Bay Area lawmakers concerned about marijuana and driving

12/29/16--Two Bay Area lawmakers, State Senator Jerry Hill of San Mateo and assemblyman Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) of Campbell, say there's nothing in the newly passed Proposition 64 that says smoking pot while driving is illegal. Hill and Low have introduced Senate Bill 65, which would close a loophole in the law to make it consistent with alcohol use in a vehicle. Read

Arizona court makes huge ruling for MMJ cardholders accused of driving high

screen-shot-2017-01-10-at-12-05-04-pm12/23/16--An Arizona court ruling says medical marijuana cardholders accused of driving under the influence have options for showing in court that there wasn’t enough marijuana compound in their bodies to cause impairment. The Court of Appeals ruling Thursday vacates a man’s conviction for driving while marijuana or a marijuana compound was in his body and says he was entitled to present evidence that he wasn’t impaired. Read

A test for marijuana impairment? A UMass prof has an app for that

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-7-08-59-am11/20/16--Michael Milburn, a psychology professor at University of Massachusetts Boston, is trying to get his app that tests for marijuana impairment into the hands of law enforcement. He has created and self-funded DRUID, an acronym for for driving under the influence of drugs. It is a tablet-based app in which users are asked to perform a series of tasks in five minutes. Read

Marijuana breathalyzer being developed

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-10-15-07-pm11/18/16--Police may soon have marijuana breathalyzers available to them to determine if a person is stoned. Mike Lynn with Hound Labs said his company has been working on a pot breathalyzer that would be able to detect both alcohol and marijuana, and it is expected to be available next year. Read

Spate of drugged driving deaths alarms U.S. regulators

screen-shot-2016-11-07-at-10-09-47-pm10/27/16--The percentage of traffic deaths in which at least one driver tested positive for drugs has nearly doubled over a decade, raising alarms as five states are set to vote on legalization of marijuana. Amid a disquieting increase in overall U.S. traffic fatalities, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tracked an upswing in the percentage of drivers testing positive for illegal drugs and prescription medications. Read

Trooper’s widow makes emotional plea against legalizing marijuana

screen-shot-2016-11-04-at-9-29-11-am10/24/16--Reisa Clardy, the widow of a state trooper killed by a driver allegedly high on marijuana, is speaking out against legalization of the drug in a wrenching new web video. Her husband was killed in March when a medical marijuana patient swerved across the highway and slammed into his cruiser. Clardy says, “There’s going to be more accidents, there’s going to be more fatalities, you’re going to have families that are going to be without their loved ones.” Read

New study examines medical marijuana’s effects on drivers

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-1-31-56-pm10/19/16--The University of California at San Diego's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research is in the early stages of conducting a two-year driving study that could help determine marijuana’s effects on driving with an emphasis on the key to understanding impaired driving. Read

Medical marijuana may be helping curb opioid use

fb-square-english-spanish9/15/16--A study conducted at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health found that there were fewer drivers killed in car crashes who tested positive for opioids in states with medical marijuana laws than before the laws went into effect. The study is one of the first to assess the link between state medical marijuana laws and opioid use at the individual level. Read