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Report: Pot-Impaired Driving Is Increasing in Colorado

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Chart from "The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3 Preview 2015"

Chart from “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3 Preview 2015”

A preview of the third report from an ongoing study finds that “impaired driving related to marijuana is increasing” in Colorado. Named “The Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado: The Impact, Volume 3 Preview 2015,” the report was issued by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA), which is part of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.  The full report will be published in late summer of this year, according to the preview.

RMHIDTA’s mission is “to facilitate cooperation and coordination among federal, state and local drug enforcement efforts to enhance combating the drug trafficking problem locally, regionally and nationally.” It does that via multi-agency drug task forces that share information and work cooperatively with other drug enforcement initiatives, the report says.

The group includes Colorado, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming, according to RMHIDTA. In Colorado, the counties include Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas, Eagle, El Paso, Garfield, Grand, Jefferson, LaPlata, Larimer, Mesa, Moffat, Pueblo, Routt, and Weld, RMHIDTA writes.

In an article on WishTV.com, Bennett Haeberle writes that the report points to statistics that Colorado’s legalization of both recreational and medical marijuana has led to increases in impaired driving.” The 2015 preview of the study contains charts based on data covering impaired driving, youth marijuana use, adult marijuana use, marijuana-related admissions to emergency rooms and hospitals, marijuana-related exposure, treatment, diversion of Colorado marijuana, diversion by parcel, THC extraction labs, and related data.

The preview says that the complete Volume 3 of the report will address traffic fatalities related to marijuana; 2014 toxicology results are still being compiled. One chart in the preview shows that according to the Colorado State Patrol, in 2014, there were 354 marijuana-only DUIDs (Driving Under the Influence of Drugs); 674 DUIDs involving marijuana; and a total of 874 total DUIDs. Of the total number of DUIDs. 77% involved marijuana, and 41% of the total number of DUIDs involved marijuana only, the preview says.

Another chart shows that there was a 100% increase in the number of DUIDS involving marijuana as reported by the Denver Police Department from 2013 to 2014. There were 33 DUIDs in Denver in 2013, and 66 in 2014, according to the chart. This chart come with the following caveat:

The number of DUID arrests is not reflective of the total number of people arrested for driving under the influence who are intoxicated on non‐alcohol substances. If someone is driving both intoxicated on alcohol and intoxicated on any other drug (including marijuana), alcohol is almost always the only intoxicant tested for. A driver who tests over the legal limit for alcohol will be charged with DUI, even if he or she is positive for other drugs. however, whether or not he or she is positive for other drugs will remain unknown because other drugs are not often tested for.

*The number of DUID arrests in which marijuana was mentioned reflects any DUID arrest where possible marijuana intoxication is mentioned by the officer in the report and is not necessarily indicative of legal intoxication.

The preview contains a chart based on data from the Aurora Police Department, showing that in Aurora in 2014, there were 103 DUIDs involving marijuana, and a total number of 157 DUIDs. Of the total number of DUIDs in Aurora in 2014, 66% involved marijuana, the preview says.

There is also a chart based on data from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, showing that in 2013, 54.55% of DUIDs in that county involved marijuana. In 2014, according to that chart, 60% of DUIDs in Larimer County involved marijuana.

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