Under Medical Marijuana, California Deaths from Stoned Driving are Significant say Researchers
The National Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reports that in California, 252 persons were killed in 2015, and 1,332 have died over the past 5 years (2011–2015) in fatal crashes where the driver had marijuana (THC) in the driver’s blood system.
Marijuana was found in 21% of fatal crashes in CA in 2015, up from 18% in 2014. Both Colorado and Washington at 24%, who have had Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries open for the past two years, have a higher percentage of marijuana driving fatalities than CA.
“Many say that approving Prop 64 and making marijuana widely available is no big deal. For me, it is a huge deal since my sister, a nurse driving to work, was killed by a marijuana driver.” says Phillip Drum, Pharm.D. author of the study. See full Marijuana Traffic Fatalities Study here.
Further, 41% of the CA marijuana drivers were under the age of 25, hardly the age group expected to be using “medical marijuana”. Also of note, marijuana using youth had a higher incidence of speeding 39% compared to a speeding rate of 27% in all other fatal crashes..
Currently blood is tested for drugs in only 25% of all CA driving fatalities compared to more than 80% tested for alcohol. “Lack of blood testing of fatal crash drivers is masking the true level of marijuana involvement in fatalities. In San Francisco, only one of 50 fatal crash drivers were blood tested for drugs in 2015.” Says Al Crancer, Co-author of the study .
Five Southern CA counties of Los Angeles (43 fatalities), Riverside (29), San Diego (19), San Bernardino (18) and Orange (15) lead the state in marijuana driving fatalities.
There is no evidence that using marijuana is resulting in fewer opiate driving fatalities. The level of opiate driving fatalities has been constant at 6% over the past five years.
|Age of CA Marijuana Drivers in Fatal Crashes, 2015 FARS Data|
|Driver Age||# Drivers||%|