Shocking Rise of Traffic Deaths Linked to Marijuana in Colorado
Written by Lucas Kibby, CleanFleet
The number of Colorado drivers who have tested positive for marijuana use after a fatal crash has more than doubled since 2013, according to the Denver Post.
The Denver Post studied federal and state crash data and county coroner reports since 2013. In November 2012, Colorado voters passed recreational marijuana legalization for retail sales to begin in January 2014.
The shifting trend in fatal-crash drug test results seems to correspond with the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana use, although it cannot be definitively linked to legalized marijuana. Nonetheless, the numbers are eye-opening. Have you updated your company’s drug testing policy yet?
According to the analysis, Colorado had a 40 percent increase in the number of all drivers involved in fatal crashes —627 to 880 from 2013 to 2016. While the number of drivers who tested positive for alcohol after a fatal crash rose 17 percent, drivers testing positive for marijuana after a fatal crash rose sharply by 145 percent —47 to 115 from 2013 to 2016.
Another way to break down the data is that drivers in fatal crashes tested positive for marijuana around 10 percent of the time but by 2016 that figure doubled to 20 percent.
Although authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot, it is important to note that the numbers probably are even higher.
Some drivers did not test positive simply because they weren’t drug-tested at all. Not all coroners drug-test deceased drivers for marijuana use because it is not required by law and some police agencies don’t bother drug-testing a surviving driver if he or she has a blood alcohol concentration of more than .08% and can be charged with driving under the influence anyway.
“With alcohol, if you blow (0.08 blood alcohol level), law enforcement is done and doesn’t care about the marijuana there,” Greenwood Village Chief Jackson said to the Denver Post. “It’s $500 for that test, a two-hour wait, staff time, and it makes little difference if there is marijuana.”