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Marijuana Use Suspected in Fatal Colorado Crash

The Colorado State Patrol says a woman killed in a single-vehicle rollover on Interstate 70 is suspected of being under the influence of marijuana at the time.

KMGH-TV reported that the crash occurred Monday afternoon near Genesee, west of Denver, and closed the eastbound lanes and one lane of the westbound lanes of the highway for several hours.

The patrol says the crash happened when the 21-year-old woman driving the car failed to negotiate a right curve, causing the vehicle to go off the left side of the roadway. The driver then over-corrected and the vehicle rolled.

Troopers say the victim was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. A second person in the car was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.

https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/west/2018/09/13/501052.htm

Mixed findings on Colorado marijuana, traffic deaths

Colorado Marijuana Holiday

The number of highway deaths involving Colorado drivers who had marijuana in their system grew again in 2017, a new state study shows.

At the same time, traffic fatalities in which drivers had enough marijuana in their bloodstream to be deemed legally impaired dropped sharply, from 52 in 2016 to 35 last year.

The reason for this seeming contradiction: Marijuana can remain in the bloodstream for weeks, so a positive blood test may not mean a driver was stoned at the time of a deadly crash.

As the Colorado Department of Transportation study notes, “The presence of a cannabinoid does not necessarily indicate recent use of marijuana or impairment.”

Overall, the number of fatalities involving positive tests for marijuana has nearly doubled since recreational legalization in 2014, from 75 that year to 125 in 2016 and 139 last year.

Colorado law specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a milliliter of their blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of marijuana.

A striking finding in the new study was the death toll involving people driving around with a cocktail of drugs in their bodies. In one year, deaths where drivers tested positive for cannabis, any alcohol and other drugs tripled — from eight in 2016 to 25 last year.

The report also found that drunken driving deaths had increased again. Twenty-six percent of those killed in crashes, or 171 people, had blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or greater, Colorado’s drunken driving limit, compared to 161 in 2016 and 151 in 2015.

Meanwhile, traffic deaths generally continued to increase on state roads, going from 546 in 2015 to 608 in 2016 and spiking to 648 last year.

CDOT spokesman Sam Cole said the department considers the number of deaths in which the driver was marijuana-impaired under state law to be the most reliable indicator of its impact on the highways.

By that measure, marijuana-related deaths are clearly down.

“Presence does not indicate impairment,” he said. At the same time, “two years does not make a trend.”

Kristi Kelly, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, welcomed the state finding that marijuana-impaired highway deaths declined last year.

She added that the industry intends to keep campaigning against smoking and driving.

“We don’t think our job is done,” she said.

Henny Lasley heads Smart Colorado, a group concerned about the effects of legalization on children.

She worries that the latest highway death statistics will be used to loosen state regulations and promote public consumption of marijuana products.

First, “The science of impairment is lacking,” she said.

“More concerning is why people are combining” marijuana, alcohol and other drugs, she said. “The combination is very concerning.”

Cole agrees.

Before fatal drug-related crashes, “drivers do tend to combine,” he said. “When you combine, it will amplify your impairment.”

https://gazette.com/news/state-colorado-traffic-deaths-involving-marijuana-rise-again/article_ec6a8f4c-a722-11e8-9c81-17b5312abb33.html

Denver now cracking down on marijuana tour buses

Undercover Denver police officers stopped two buses on Friday. Officers cited 31 people who were smoking during the ride on My420 and Colorado Cannabis tour buses.

The city of Denver’s Department of Excise and Licenses said this week that marijuana tour buses are operating illegally, despite the drug’s legality in Colorado.

Undercover Denver police officers stopped two buses on Friday. Officers cited 31 people who were smoking during the ride on My420 and Colorado Cannabis tour buses.

One person was arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.

Eric Escudero with the Department of Excise and Licenses told 9NEWS his office has sent letters to the tour companies warning them that they are not operating within the law.

Escudero also said there’s also no legal way under current rules for these tours to become legal.

Jay Casillas, a spokesperson for the Denver Police Department, said enforcement of the laws on pot buses was complaint-driven. He did not say how many complaints they’ve received.

According to its website, My 420 Tours is “at the forefront of cannabis tourism, offering visitors a glimpse into the cutting-edge world of cannabis legalization and marijuana news in Colorado and beyond.”

Its site also says the company has been around since 2013 and offers not just tours, but cannabis vacations, complete with “420-friendly hotels” with prices that start at $1,295.

Colorado Cannabis tours range from $29 to $99. As of this writing, the website appeared to still be accepting reservations.

https://www.9news.com/article/news/crime/denver-now-cracking-down-on-marijuana-tour-buses/73-565120320

Alexa Curtin Charged With Driving Under Influence Of A Drug

Alexa Curtin was reportedly charged recently with driving under the influence of a drug. Court records show that The Real Housewives of Orange County star Lynne Curtin’s daughter Alexa, who has had various legal issues, was charged with allegedly driving under the influence on June 6, 2017. Now she’s been charged with that — and was also cited for driving without a valid driver license.

Law enforcement sources told The Blast that Costa Mesa police officers were called to the scene of an accident at around 2:45 PM on that day in June. Insiders claimed to the website that Alexa had crashed her car and cops came to investigate.

While on the scene, the police believed that Alexa, who had been driving the car, appeared to be under the influence. “Police had her perform a field sobriety test, which we’re told she failed,” The Blast reported.

Alexa submitted to a blood test by police and the results came back allegedly showing a cocktail of prescription drugs, including Clonazepam (aka Klonopin) and opioids.

The RHOC wild child was officially charged on April 18 in Orange County Court and an arraignment has been set for June.

https://radaronline.com/exclusives/2018/04/rhoc-daughter-alexa-curtin-charged-with-driving-under-influence/

CDOT Has ‘The Cannabis Conversation’ At Community Open House

DENVER – People talk about pot in Colorado every day. Whether they’re buying it, using it, or getting a whiff of it while cruising down the road.

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 0 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

But a cannabis conversation inside a Denver recreation center Wednesday was a bit different.

The subject – driving high. It’s a big problem in our state and the reason why the Colorado Department of Transportation recently launched their multi-year safety campaign “The Cannabis Conversation.”

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 330 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

They want to talk with the public about the dangers of driving high, and why some think it’s okay to get behind the wheel while under the influence of marijuana.

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 954 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

“For me, I feel like sometimes using cannabis doesn’t make me impaired, it actually makes me focused,” Alex Rubin, a regular cannabis consumer, said.

Rubin said he attended CDOT’s open house meeting at the Montclair Recreation Center “to just be a little more informed.” He told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann he uses cannabis every day and knows his limits.

As for if he’s ever used and then gotten behind the wheel…

“I know if I feel more stoney or more cloudy, I know that I probably should be doing anything cognitive,” Rubin explained. “But that doesn’t’ mean I should never use and then get under the wheel.”

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 630 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

But that is exactly what some marijuana companies, health groups and especially Colorado State Patrol – all who had Q & A booths at the meeting – say drivers shouldn’t do.

“It is not okay to drive a motor vehicle if you’re utilizing marijuana,” CSP Sgt. Rob Madden said to the small group who attended the meeting.

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 480 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

“They’re saying that any form of cannabis consumption is not okay, and if you’re using cannabis, you should never drive or do anything,” he said. “I think that is a little bit skewed in some ways for people who use cannabis every day.”

Rubin added that cannabis affects everyone differently, especially in the various ways it can be consumed. He said he is happy CDOT has launched a conversation around marijuana, but he thinks the focus should be on defining impairment.

cdot cannabis conversation 10pkg transfer frame 1704 CDOT Has The Cannabis Conversation At Community Open House

(credit: CBS)

“Where is that bar? Where is that line? I think an educational campaign from people or dispensaries that are selling the products is an important way to do it,” he said.

CDOT is continuing ‘The Cannabis Conversation’ in Fort Collins on Tuesday, March 27.

For more details and to take an online survey to weigh in on the issue, visit: https://www.codot.gov/safety/alcohol-and-impaired-driving/druggeddriving.

CDOT Has ‘The Cannabis Conversation’ At Community Open House

Group trying to figure out role of pot in impaired-driving accidents

Group trying to figure out role of pot in impaired-driving accidents

A panel of experts from the cannabis, public safety and transportation industries gathered at Colorado State University-Pueblo Thursday to discuss misconceptions and discuss the dangers of cannabis-impaired driving.

The discussion was the first public happening of the Colorado Department of Transportation’s new public safety campaign called The Cannabis Conversation, which is seeking the input of Coloradans to identify solutions to a problem that contributed to 77 fatal car wrecks in 2016 alone.

According to CDOT Communications Manager Sam Cole, the department previously orchestrated ad campaigns to get the word out about cannabis-impaired driving, which he said were successful in notifying the public of the dangers and legal repercussions of driving under the influence of marijuana but seemingly did little to curb citizens’ behavior.

 So instead of another ad campaign to speak to cannabis users, CDOT decided to host The Cannabis Conversation in order to facilitate a conversation in which Coloradans could weigh in.

Some of the primary topics discussed at the meeting included how marijuana consumption effects drivers, current law enforcement methods for detecting drugged driving, and ongoing research into tools that measure impairment.

All of the panelists agreed that marijuana consumption can cause impairment that makes it dangerous to operate a motor vehicle, but noted that because marijuana has not been researched as extensively as other impairment-causing drugs, such as alcohol, it is unclear to what extent.

The lack of research is attributable to the relatively new status of legalized recreational marijuana in Colorado, and panelist Kristi Kelly, the executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said a number of research studies on marijuana impairment are being conducted in the Centennial State.

Cole expressed that though research has not yet identified the extent to which marijuana causes driving impairment, studies have shown that being under the influence of marijuana does impact perceptions of distance, speed and time.

“We would all agree that at a certain level, yes, marijuana does impair your ability to drive,” Cole said.

“I think where everything gets squishy is in the research addressing at what level. Does somebody have to smoke a whole joint? Eat a whole edible? Or would they be fine just having a hit or two off a joint and they can still drive?

“Science just really hasn’t met us there, so we’re still having this discussion, both in the scientific and research community. Meanwhile, CDOT is really digging deep into this data to understand a lot more about these crashes that involved somebody who was high.”

A variety of factors play into how impaired each individual driver may be after consuming marijuana, including the amount consumed, time elapsed since consumption and the individual’s tolerance.

Because marijuana can be detected in a person’s blood long after they’ve consumed it, panelist Jack Reed, a statistical analyst for the Colorado Department of Public Safety, detailed that the state enforces existing driving laws by first identifying impairment through behavioral cues and later testing for a specific type of THC called Delta-9.

Colorado law dictates a person cannot legally drive if any more than 5 nanograms of Delta-9 THC is detected in his or her blood and Reed said Delta-9 is different from other types of THC in that it is usually only detectable in significant quantities when marijuana has been consumed within a short time of being tested, typically around two hours.

While research surrounding marijuana impairment and its effect on a citizen’s ability to drive continues to progress, panelist Matt Herrera, manager at the Pueblo Starbuds Dispensary, said he advises his customers to simply treat marijuana consumption the same way they do other impairment-causing drugs.

“There’s a misconception when it comes to alcohol and marijuana that a lot of people think marijuana is way less of a problem and it’s not,” he said.

“Even if the number is one marijuana-impaired driving fatality, that is one too many,” Kelly said.

“So compared to alcohol for example, the numbers are significantly lower than alcohol. But in our opinion, one is still too many. So our goal, and why we work with CDOT … is because we are fully committed to educating folks on the road so that they can make the right choices beforehand.”

http://www.montrosepress.com/national/news/group-trying-to-figure-out-role-of-pot-in-impaired/article_c49ff135-2611-5073-a984-9d71c701b697.html

Airboat skipper smoked weed before fatal crash, test shows. But he can’t be charged

The airboat that crashed last year in the Everglades, killing recent University of Miami graduate Elizabeth Goldenberg. Prosecutors this week decided they could not criminally charge the craft’s skipper.

The airboat that crashed last year in the Everglades, killing recent University of Miami graduate Elizabeth Goldenberg. Prosecutors this week decided they could not criminally charge the craft’s skipper. Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office
A veteran airboat captain had a high level of marijuana in his blood when his boat flipped in the Everglades, hurling tourists into the swamp and drowning a recent University of Miami graduate pinned under the craft.

But nearly a year after the crash, prosecutors this week ruled out charging Steve George Gagne with any crime, including boating under the influence.

The reason: Witnesses said Gagne showed no signs of being high before the crash that killed 22-year-old Elizabeth Goldenberg, according to a newly released report by the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. But the concentration of THC, the active compound in marijuana, in his blood was nearly triple what would have gotten him arrested in states where marijuana use is legal such as Colorado or Washington.

Florida has no such law and the case underscores the unsettled standards surrounding use of marijuana. Even as more states legalize marijuana for recreational or medical use, there is no consensus — in the law, science or medicine — on how best to measure whether someone is stoned while behind the wheel of a boat or a car.

http://amp.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article202864709.html

Colorado Starts a ‘Cannabis Conversation’ On Driving While High

More than half of marijuana users surveyed said they “consistently” drove while high in the last 30 days.

Driving while high has not risen to the level of havoc caused by drunken driving but it has become enough of a problem that government officials in Colorado and the state’s marijuana industry have teamed up to address it.

In 2016 alone, the state had 77 fatal wrecks that involved drivers with THC in their bloodstream, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. THC is the chemical ingredient in cannabis that is psychoactive – in other words, it’s what causes the high feeling.

Officials in the Rocky Mountain State have partnered with the marijuana industry to launch a new project that offers state residents the chance to participate in a “Cannabis Conversation” by taking an online survey.

The survey is designed to gather the opinions of state residents regarding the drugged driving issue and collect information on their habits and behavior regarding marijuana use and driving.

That information will, in turn, guide public officials and the marijuana industry on practical ways to reduce drugged driving. It’s a multi-year effort. It’s also needed because both law enforcement officials and businesses involved with legal marijuana recognize past efforts have not worked.

Complicated and controversial

Driving under the influence of cannabis is a complicated, and even controversial, topic for many reasons. State police, academic researchers and private companies are still looking for ways to accurately determine whether a driver is impaired. There is continued debate over what even constitutes driving while impaired by cannabis.

The issue also has been politicized. Fatality figures such as the one from 2016 in Colorado are used by marijuana opponents to argue against legalization.

Industry advocates point out such numbers have not been treated as a litmus test for legalization of products. Our own federal government reports that more than 16 million Americans live with diseases caused by cigarette smoking. Also, excessive use of alcohol led to about 88,000 deaths every year between 2006 and 2010.

That offers perspective, but no one argues drugged driving is an issue that can be ignored.

The Colorado Approach

Both Colorado officials and marijuana industry leaders have led public education efforts in the past to educate against drugged driving. The state Department of Transportation reports that those efforts have reached 90 percent of those who use marijuana in the state. They now understand they can get a DUI for drugged driving. However, more than 50 percent of marijuana users “consistently” report they drove while high in the last 30 days.

What gives? State officials suspect that people have a different view of drugged driving than they do drunk driving. They hope the “Colorado Conversation” will provide insight into people’s attitudes on the issue, as well as more information on how often they do it and under what circumstances.

Sam Cole, safety communications manager at Colorado Department of Transportation, told the CBS affiliate in Denver that the initiative is about “hearing from many different voices on the topic of driving high and understanding how we can more effectively connect with people about the dangers of doing so.”

Cole also noted that while drunk driving has been a topic in the national conversation for decades ”we aren’t having the same conversations about driving high.”

Kristi Kelly, executive director of Colorado’s Marijuana Industry Group, said cannabis businesses are partnering with the state on the program because “responsible consumption and reducing marijuana-impaired driving is a shared priority.”

https://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Colorado-Starts-a-Cannabis-Conversation-On-12630728.php

Brush Truck Driver Charged With Meth Possession

A man charged Wednesday with driving under the influence and possession of methamphetamine by the Tennessee Highway Patrol after a traffic stop on Baileyton Road had a first appearance Friday in General Sessions Court.

Richard Lynn Greenwell, 37, of 1409 Daisy St., had a hearing date of Feb. 12 set. Greenwell was charged with DUI, felony possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Greenwell was also cited for speeding after being pulled over while driving a Ford brush truck owned by Wolf Tree service, Trooper Vince Mullins said in a report.

Greenwell was speeding and allegedly crossed the road center line three times. He “was slow to pull over and appeared impaired by drugs,” the report said.

Greenwell did poorly on field sobriety tests. A search of the truck turned up a small plastic bag containing about two grams of suspected methamphetamine and another plastic bag containing a smaller amount of suspected meth, the report said.

Also found in the truck was a torch-style lighter and a sunglasses case that held a glass pipe with white residue, a cut straw and “two implements to crush drugs,” the report said.

Court docs: Vancouver woman drove over woman, caused miscarriage

A Vancouver woman was under the influence of methamphetamine and other drugs when she ran over a woman and caused her to have a miscarriage, according to a probable cause affidavit.

Jessica Mill, 30, appeared in court Tuesday. She’s facing a charge of vehicular assault.

The court document from Clark County says that just before 2 a.m. on Feb. 12, 2017, Mill was driving to Muchas Gracias in Vancouver in a 1997 Plymouth Neon.

Her passenger was Jameshia Carter.

They ordered food and parked in the parking lot. The court document says Mill then walked around to the passenger side of the vehicle and began arguing with Carter.

Mill grabbed Carter’s purse and while they fought over the purse, they broke the vehicle’s right front window.

Mill then climbed back in the vehicle and Carter thought she was going to leave without her, so she started getting back into the passenger seat.

As Carter was partially in the vehicle, Mill put the vehicle in reverse and backed up.

While the vehicle was reversing, Carter said she was struck by the open passenger door and knocked to the ground. Mill continued driving in reverse and ran over Carter with the right front tire.

Mill kept driving backwards onto the sidewalk on the north side of the restaurant, causing the door to hit the building and fold forward. She then drove forward through the parking lot, over a curb and crashed into a tree.

A deputy who responded to the scene suspected Mill was impaired on illicit drugs. After obtaining a search warrant to collect a blood sample, investigators discovered her blood contained 0.021 mg/L of amphetamine, 0.16 mg/L of methamphetamine, 12ng/mL of Carboxy-THC and 0.083 mg/L of Alprazolam.

Carter suffered a fractured left side rib, an abrasion to her left hip and right knee and a contusion of her left knee. She was about two months pregnant and suffered a miscarriage.

http://katu.com/news/local/court-docs-vancouver-woman-drove-over-woman-caused-miscarriage