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Marijuana is a Chief Factor in the Recent Deaths of Santa Cruz Drivers

The CHP warns that 2011 had no fatalities from alcohol or drugs, but three fatal accidents this March involved marijuana.

Marijuana has played a part in several recent accidents and in more fatalities over the past three years than alcohol, according to the California Highway Patrol's Santa Cruz office.

In 2010, four of seven fatalities were caused by marijuana, according to Officer Sarah Jackson. There were no alcohol or drug-related fatalities in 2011, however there were three in February and March of 2012.

According to a CHP report:

The three-vehicle collision on Highway 129 on the morning of February 10th was caused by a young woman under the influence of marijuana.  The young woman who caused the collision did not survive and another was seriously injured.

A young San Lorenzo Valley man lost his life in the twilight hours of March 14th when his truck ran off the edge of Graham Hill Road and struck a tree.  He was under the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana.

Just after midnight on March 18th, a 35 year old man lost control of his vehicle and collided with a tree on Highway 1 at State Park Drive.  He was under the combined influence of alcohol and marijuana.

“These collisions are particularly tragic," said CHP Commander Matt Olson. "They each cut short the lives of young people with so much ahead of them and left behind devastated families.  Sadly, these collisions were completely avoidable.  Our hearts go out to their families and we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening to others.” 

Statewide, the CHP said, 30 percent of all fatal accidents are caused by drivers under the influence of drugs.

The CHP passed out this warning:

CHP asks the community of Santa Cruz to please be aware of the impairing effects of marijuana.  Whether it is illicitly or legally obtained, marijuana has a profoundly negative effect on the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. 

Prescription drugs and other illegal drugs also impair drivers.  Everyone knows – or should know by now - that drinking and driving is dangerous, but drug use is on the rise and is just as dangerous behind the wheel.  Help us spread awareness and save lives.

Malcolm Kyle April 18, 2012 at 09:10 AM
A provider of free online auto insurance quotes says it has conducted a study that concludes marijuana uses are safer drivers. “What law enforcement agencies and insurers do not understand is that driving while high is actually a safe activity,” - James Shaffer, chief executive officer of the national auto-quote provider, in a statement. According to the study, marijuana users may get into fewer accidents than other drivers. The study looked at data on accidents, traffic violations and insurance prices. The only significant effect of smoking marijuana may be slower driving. http://www.4autoinsurancequote.org/uncategorized/reasons-why-marijuana-users-are-safe-drivers/
Blair Anderson April 18, 2012 at 09:34 AM
A chief factor? Hyperbole abounds!
Justin Ballinger April 18, 2012 at 11:48 AM
Marijuana raises alertness, generally. Marijuana for myself, at least. It also leads me to be a far more sensable person, and though it is clear that marijuana has a potential to slow reaction time minimally, it also has the potential to provide the reverse effect on some. This study is a complete oppinion, and just because thse people happened to have a THC count uppon death, does not automatically imply that marijuana was the actual cause of anything. Also, to insinuate that marijuana causes more deaths than alcohol? Absolutely haneous. Anyone who knows with experience the difference between marijuana and alcohol know that is often nearly impossible to walk or see while drunk, not to mention having only a hazy memory of what happened. Then there's the liver damage, the potential for alcohal poisoning. Now if you look at Marijuana, (which BTW the U.S. has a patent on) http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/6630507.html You'll find nothing but health beneficials. Strange that it's still illegal if you ask me. It's all about the money. R.I.P. to the deceased mentioned. But the blame is not to be misplaced on the only natural super medicine.
JL April 18, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Reefer madness is over guys. Your driver could have smoked six months ago and still tested positive for thc. Your all liars, stop trying to convince people that marijuana is bad. I bet statistically cops kill more people in our two north american countries than marijuana ever has or will. Degenerate Liars! One more thing you should be ashamed of yourselves for slandering the poor deceased driver. You guys chose once again a target that couldn't defend themselves! Bullies!
Kevin_Hunt April 18, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I agree that no one under the influence of any drug (including cold medicine) should drive, but this correlation between marijuana use and these accidents by CHP seems tenuous at best. These cases of "combined influence" make me wonder what the BAC of those drivers was.
woodsywoman April 18, 2012 at 03:03 PM
This headline is so misleading. Two of the three accidents were due to combined effects. No doubt it was the alcohol!
Ziggy Sirjack April 18, 2012 at 04:53 PM
FREE WEED VIDEO CONTEST! Submit a 45 second or less video telling us why you like weed and win $10,000. The top 10 videos will appear in the comedy film Gone to Pot. Check us out on Facebook at gonetopotmovie. Celeb judges.
Zerogal April 18, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Once again, this is propaganda by the CHP. Two of the accidents involved alcohol, which we all know is a major cause of fatal traffic accidents. As other readers pointed out, cannabis metabolites stay in the system for weeks, long, long after there is any mental effect. Shame on the CHP for pointing the finger at marijuana. By now, we all know that law enforcement recognizes that marijuana prohibition is a great cash cow for them, and will do anything to try to maintain it. Stories like these are so transparent. But WHY is patch buying into it?
CareInn April 18, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Wait a second, how come it says that they were results of marijuana and not alcohol when two of them were a combination?!?! Furthermore, what constitutes "under the influence of marijuana"? It has been proven it can stay in your system for weeks so they could have smoked days or weeks before the incident and not have had impairments because of it...way to mislead and try influencing the public with inaccurate reporting!
Brian April 18, 2012 at 06:24 PM
marijuana has a long history of fascism directed against it, people poisoning it, people who dont even smoke making statements against it, along with alcohol industry supporting laws against it. given marijuanas rediculous history of tyranny against it you do the math? As far as patch is concerned they have a history of deleteing peoples messages and playing politics. The latest thing in cannabis politics was labor unions attempting to regulate and tax it, and givin cannabis history thats people sininister considering the whole prohibition thingy started with the end of prohibition against alcohol and the beginning of prohibition and taxation of marijuana refer:Marijuana tax act(The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, Pub. 238, 75th Congress, 50 Stat. 551 (Aug. 2, 1937)
TMay April 18, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Michael Savage who has a PHD in Nutritional Ethnomedicine from U Cal Berkeley says that marijuana is very dangerous precisely because people underestimate it. He also said marijuana smoke has carcinogens and is harmful. He made fun of people who eat organic for their health and then smoke marijuana as people who don't know how to take care of their health.
David Jay Brown April 18, 2012 at 09:47 PM
While, of course, no one should ever drive while intoxicated from anything, I suspect that Sarah Jackson is spreading misinformation here. There is no way to tell from an autopsy if someone was intoxicated on marijuana at the time of death, and the DMV's own studies with cannabis show that it actually causes most people to drive more cautiously when they're high. Also, studies demonstrate that experienced cannabis drivers show little impairment compared to alcohol, and that people will generally compensate for any impairment caused by cannabis by driving more slowly. As other people have pointed out above, in the three cases summarized in the article, two of the people were also using alcohol--which seriously impairs driving--and, unlike alcohol, there is no way to determine if someone was actually under the influence of marijuana when they died--so the title of this article, and Sarah Jackson's quotes, are more than misleading. We don't even know if cannabis played a role in these deaths at all, let alone be a "chief factor."
John Cohen April 20, 2012 at 02:29 AM
What about DUI drivers on Meth? They are certainly more dangerous than DUI drivers on marijuana.
Kevin_Hunt April 20, 2012 at 02:58 AM
What does Michael Savage say about people that eat organic marijuana?
Brian April 20, 2012 at 05:30 AM
then why do fighter pilots and race car drivers love adderal to go up and valium to come down, most meth heads are excellent drivers while high, its when they come down that you have to worry street drugs are overly potent and poisoned with petro chemicals. To compare marijuana with meth or alcohol shows just how retarded and uneducated some people are. talk is cheap

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