Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up in Colorado. Is legalization to blame? | AspenTimes.com

Traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up in Colorado. Is legalization to blame?

Authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot

David Migoya
The Denver Post

District 3 police officer Michael Davis gives information to Corporal David Trujillo Denver Police Traffic Operations Bureau DUI/DRE (Drug Recognition Expert) as he begins an investigation of a one car accident where the driver is suspected to be under the influence at the Denver Health Medical Center. Aug. 9 in Denver.

The number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado who tested positive for marijuana has risen sharply each year since 2013, more than doubling in that time, federal and state data show. A Denver Post analysis of the data and coroner reports provides the most comprehensive look yet into whether roads in the state have become more dangerous since the drug's legalization.

Increasingly potent levels of marijuana were found in positive-testing drivers who died in crashes in Front Range counties, according to coroner data since 2013 compiled by The Denver Post. Nearly a dozen in 2016 had levels five times the amount allowed by law, and one was at 22 times the limit. Levels were not as elevated in earlier years.

The vast majority of drivers who survived and tested positive for marijuana use — last year it was 100 percent — were found to have the drug at levels that indicated use within a few hours of being tested, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation, which compiles information for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System.

The trends coincide with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado that began with adult use in late 2012, followed by sales in 2014. Colorado transportation and public safety officials, however, say the rising number of pot-related traffic fatalities cannot be definitively linked to legalized marijuana.

Read the full story from The Denver Post at http://www.denverpost.com/2017/08/25/colorado-marijuana-traffic-fatalities.

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