No matter that a recent study suggests that legalized marijuana has not led to significant increases in risks to Colorado drivers — operating motor vehicles while high is a problem in this state that authorities must continue to address. And that includes finding an improved way to test the sobriety level of drivers who have been pulled over.
That study, published by the American Journal of Public Health published, found that compared with eight states where marijuana is not legal, Colorado and Washington saw no significant increase in motor vehicle fatalities from 2009 to 2015. Colorado, which approved medical marijuana in 2000, legalized recreational marijuana in 2012.
Fair enough. After all, determining the role that THC in the driver’s blood played in a deadly crash is difficult. There are a number of factors that have to be considered, including the presence of alcohol in the driver’s system. But there’s more to this story.
Another study, published last month by the Highway Loss Data Institute, looked at the frequency of car insurance collision claims in Washington, Colorado and in Oregon, where recreational marijuana also s legal. That study found a 3 percent increase in collision claims in those states compared with Wyoming, Idaho and Nevada, where it is not legal. That study was based on an examination of 2.5 million insurance claims from January 2012 to October 2016.
Naturally, proponents of marijuana legalization — that is, proponents of marijuana — question the methodology of the study.
But the Colorado Department of Transportation provides a more sobering perspective. CDOT data on “Drugged Drivers Involved in Fatal Crashes” reveals that in 2014, the percentage of drivers in fatal accidents who tested positive for cannabis was 12.3 percent, the highest in more than a decade. Fatal accidents have been on the