According to a recent report in the Denver Post, an uptick of marijuana involved auto fatalities have caused concern for many state officials in Colorado. In 2016, Colorado had 77 motorists died while under the influence of cannabis and its primary intoxicating substance (THC 9). And that was a dramatic increase over previous years.
Fact finding mission
To combat this public safety problem, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) has been conducting the Cannabis Conversation program. State officials have been asking residents about their cannabis use, so the government better understands the current views of driving under the influence of pot.
Recently, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently conducted a survey of drivers and found that more than half of marijuana users have driven a vehicle under the influence of cannabis in the last 30 days.
Impaired driving fatality numbers
Alcohol-related automobile fatalities are 26% of total accidents while marijuana-related fatalities account for 8% of total accidents. CDOT manager Sam Cole expressed his frustration over the current situation, and he wants to change in driver behavior.
No reliable impairment testing standards
Alcohol and marijuana are completely different drugs, so the testing measures for alcohol simply don’t apply to marijuana. Currently, there’s no reliable marijuana testing method for impaired driving, and it stays in the system much longer than alcohol.
Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, stated that there is no accurate and reliable method for measuring cannabis impairment. According to Kelly, when law enforcement detects THC 9, that does not mean that the driver is too impaired to drive.
Lawmakers seek solutions
As a remedy to the current accident rates under influence of marijuana, several Colorado state law makers have taken action. Colorado Rep. Hugh McKean unveiled the HB19-1146 bill in the state legislature to update the current marijuana impairment laws, but other lawmakers argued it would give police too much discretion during traffic stops.
The bill has been shelved, and its fate is undetermined. However, the problem persists, and Colorado is still figuring out how to reduce marijuana impaired accidents and fatalities.