Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Weekly Blog 11/20/12:Drugged Driving a Concern in Washington and Colorado

Since the elections a lot of people have asked me about the "legalization" of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. The following article from the Communty Anti-drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) discusses one concern.
Drugged Driving a Concern in Washington and Colorado
Nov 15, 2012
While marijuana is still illegal under federal law, statewide legal recreational use in Washington and Colorado has caused the law enforcement sector additional concerns about drugged driving. 
“Given that marijuana is already the most prevalent illegal drug detected in impaired drivers, marijuana ballot initiatives serve to further compromise highway safety,” said CADCA’s Chairman and CEO Gen. Arthur Dean.

“Marijuana use doubles the risk that you will get in a crash,” Dr. Susan Weiss, Acting Director of the Office of Science Policy and Communications at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Colorado's measure doesn't make any changes to the state's driving-under-the-influence laws, despite the fact that the Colorado Department of Transportation found that drivers who tested positive for marijuana in fatal car crashed doubled between 2006 and 2010, leaving lawmakers and police to worry about its effect on road safety.

"We're going to have more impaired drivers," said John Jackson, police chief in the Denver suburb of Greenwood Village, to the Associated Press.

Washington's law includes DUI provisions that set a blood-test limit for marijuana, which some lawyers are already gearing up to challenge.
"We've had decades of studies and experience with alcohol," said Washington State Patrol spokesman Dan Coon. "Marijuana is new, so it's going to take some time to figure out how the courts and prosecutors are going to handle it. But the key is impairment: We will arrest drivers who drive impaired, whether it is drugs or alcohol."

And law enforcement has good reason to be concerned: Marijuana can cause dizziness and slowed reaction time, and drivers are more likely to drift and swerve while they're high. Unlike portable breath tests for alcohol, there's no easily available way to determine whether someone is impaired from recent pot use.

CADCA had previously reported in Coalitions Online that in Colorado, drugged driving cases were up even before the legalization vote. In 2009, the state toxicology lab obtained 791 THC-positive samples from suspected impaired drivers. Last year, it had 2,030 THC-positive samples.

CADCA hosted a webinar on this topic today. The webinar, sponsored by CADCA’s National Coalition Institute, featured Dr. Weiss, former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Dr. Kevin A. Sabet, Sue Thau, CADCA Public Policy Consultant; and Rhonda Ramsey Molina, Deputy Director of Dissemination and Coalition Relations for the CADCA Institute. View the webinar on demand athttp://www.cadca.org/trainingevents/distancelearning/webinars Friday.

CADCA also issued a legislative alert today, calling on key Administration officials to publicly and swiftly declare the marijuana ballot initiatives in Colorado and Washington State illegal. If you haven’t already, please visit http://capwiz.com/cadca/issues/alert/?alertid=62157591&type=ML to respond to this alert.

For more information about the facts on marijuana, please check out the following resources:www.nida.govwww.whitehouse/gov/ondcp/marijuanainfo, and www.cadca.org/policyadvocacy/policy-links. CADCA also developed a toolkit for coalitions dealing with marijuana which CADCA members can access by contacting Membership Associate, Dana Landers, at dlanders@cadca.org or  703-706-0560, Ext. 257.
Cheryl DePaolo
Director of Ulster Prevention Council

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