Category Archives: Driving

Ask Amy: No it’s Not SAFER When it Comes to DRiving

Amy Dickinson writes a syndicated column for a number of newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.  This question and answer appeared in the April 6, 2017 editions.  The marijuana lobby wrote a book, Marijuana is Safer,  full of misinformation.  We believe it’s important to publish this message from the Ask Amy column. 

Dear Amy: I have a 25-year-old granddaughter who will call a taxi or use a designated driver if she is going to be drinking, but she thinks it’s fine to smoke pot and get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

I have told her that she is probably more impaired after smoking pot then if she had a couple of drinks.

She totally disagrees. I have spoken to other pot smokers, and a lot of them agree with her.

How can I get her to understand the severe consequences that could happen to herself or some innocent person if she drives impaired?

— Frustrated!

Dear Frustrated: I shared your question with a spokesperson with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has published studies on this.

Their response: “There seems to be a common misperception — that people can compensate (and in fact drive more slowly than normal) under the influence of marijuana. But the research says something different — marijuana increases your risk of being in a car crash about two-fold, and also increases your risk of being at fault for the accident.”

“These effects are not as dramatic as the effects of alcohol (which increases your risk about five-fold at the 0.08 legal limit), but the combination of the two — marijuana and alcohol — is even worse than either one alone.”

That last point is important. If your granddaughter is using alcohol and marijuana at the same time (as many people do), she should not drive.

For more information check www.drugabuse.gov.

The marijuana-induced crash that killed bicyclist Richard Tom and driver Joseph Marshall, April 26,2015. Photo: Elizabeth Murray, Burlington Free Press

Editor’s Note: The number of fatal crashes — especially in the states of Washington and Colorado — caused by THC-impaired drivers suggests that NORML and Marijuana Policy Project need to issue warnings  against marijuana and driving.

National Safety Report Shows Fear of Stoned Drivers

A National Safety Report released this month shows that 76% percent of those surveyed are concerned about traffic safety under the legalization of marijuana.

Ironically, the same survey showed that 13 percent of drivers actually have driven under the influence of marijuana during the last month.    Of the 2,000 plus participants, 14% were between comprised drivers ages 30-34, the largest group in the survey.

Here’s a report of the National Safety Council’s Survey.  

On CBS Evening News, Deborah Hersman of the National Safety Council called out people driving under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, She also mentioned states legalizing substances without adequate testing.   Watch the video.

Traffic fatalities have been increasing in the last two years, to an estimated 40,000 deaths last year.   The previous year a rise in deaths was led by increases in the Northwestern states.  Washington, which commercialized marijuana in 2014, had the highest rate of traffic fatalities involving drivers under the influence.  The rate more than doubled in 2014.

Hersman mentioned that drivers ages 19-24 seem to be involved in the most risky driving behaviors.   We find that many of the crashes caused by stoned drivers involve those ages 17 – 20, below the legal age for marijuana in the states that have legalized.    When teens drive stoned, they often have friends with them, leading to multiple deaths at once.

We have published numerous articles on stoned driving.  

Articles show how bicyclists and pedestrians are in danger.   It is not uncommon for those who cause accidents to be both stoned and drunk simultaneously.

Marijuana Deaths: 5 Killed Instantly After Pot Became Legal

Can Other States Prevent Deaths Like those in Washington?

Washington – not Colorado – was the first state to legalize weed on December 5, 2012, exactly four years ago.    Within a few weeks, five people  died—probably only because marijuana was now legal. California and Massachusetts have not figured out how to measure  stoned drivers.  Will other states that now allow pot possession face a rapid rise of deaths too?

On the morning pot was legalized, two intruders broke into the Puyallup home of a large marijuana grower.  Robbery was the motive, of course.   The owner shot and killed the masked men immediately.    So much for the claim that legalization will “free up law enforcement for more serious crimes.”    A few weeks ago, there was a similar situation in Denver, when a homeowner shot and killed a 15-year-old stealing pot from his yard.

On December 17, 2012, Scotty Rowles struck and killed pedestrian Donald Collins in Vancouver, Washington.   Rowles was not speeding, but admitted to smoking a bowl of marijuana before driving.  He spent six months in jail and is now on probation.   (Punishments for stoned driving in Washington aren’t strong enough to discourage it.)

Tyler Martel’s accident on December 7, 2012 was more deadly.   Martel left his parents’ house at 10:30 p.m.  By 3:45 a.m., the police came to the parents’ home and said that he had died.  His girlfriend, his soon-to-be fiancé, had been airlifted to Harborview Hospital Center.   Stephanie Nicole Profitt underwent many surgeries and fought to regain her life.  Her struggle ended in death on January 19, 2013.

Don’t Substitute One Dangerous Addiction for Another

Stoned driving caused three of these deaths.   Marijuana greed and jealousy inspired the shooting when two men died.  Perhaps the worst news of all is that Tyler Martel, 27, who died instantly had survived and conquered Oxycodone addiction.   He was four years clean.  He had gone through rehab, had a job and was building a new life.  At a party on that fateful night, he declined all invitations to drink.   But marijuana was now legal, and he smoked marijuana with his brother before he drove.

When people suggest that substituting opiate pain pill abuse with marijuana, remember what happened to Tyler Martel and Stephanie Proffitt.   They were not the only victims.  Timothy Lang came to Profitt’s funeral in a wheelchair.    He was one of the other drivers, and is thankful to the emergency workers who saved life.

Alex Ashley poignantly describes Tyler Martel’s battle to regain his life and the legacy of the accident.

Martel’s mother Patrice is on a mission to warn students of impaired driving.   It is counter-intuitive to suggest that any addictive substance should substitute for another addictive substance.  It’s a case where someone tried it and we know the results.

Colorado gets more publicity than Washington because many anti-pot activists live in Colorado.  The Seattle press usually covers up the downside of pot.  Colorado opened commercial marijuana six months ahead of Washington, and we’ve heard more about deaths from edibles in Colorado.

However, Washington has a slightly higher rate of stoned driving deaths than Colorado.  A stoned driver killed Rosemary Tempel four months before the vote to legalize, but the Press and police failed to report it.

One year ago, 16-year-old boy Somalian immigrant Hamza Warsame — died immediately after smoking weed.  He jumped off a balcony and fell six stories to his death in Seattle.

A warning to Massachusetts, as state legislators discuss delaying marijuana.  Government’s job is to protect its people.   The black market still thrives in Washington and also causes violence.

So many tragic marijuana-related accidents involve children.

Tragic Accidents Related to Marijuana Involve Children

15-year-old driver high on pot paralyzes boy, rips truck into 3 parts near Seattle

When states legalize marijuana for adults, children are in danger, too.  Here’s recent traffic accidents involving marijuana. Eight are dead, three of them children.

  1.  A 7-year-old boy is paralyzed, because a girl driving under the influence of marijuana smashed into his dad’s pickup truck near Seattle on May 24, 2016.  The unlicensed, 15-year-old driver was in a BMW, with a 24-year-old man and a 5-year-old child.  The man driving the truck sustained critical injuries, with his truck  torn into three parts.  (photo above: Kent fire department)
  2. An  8-year old girl, Peyton Knowlton, who was hit and killed while riding her bicycle in Longmont, Colorado, on May 20.  Newspaper articles on July 27 report that the police investigation confirms that the 20-year-old driver high had been high on marijuana at the time.  He was below the legal age for purchasing marijuana.  (A video on below shows the scene of the accident.)

    peyton.knowlton.gofundme
    Peyton Knowlton from a gofundme page, as shared in an article on Westword.com
  3. In Boulder, Colorado on May 7, a 17-year-old was driving home from smoking pot with friends when he plowed through a stoplight while stoned and killed two young adults.   It means that at least two deadly accidents in Boulder County involved marijuana during the month of May.
  4. July, 2016: A Wisconsin teen admitted to using marijuana shortly before his vehicle missed a stop sign and collided with an SUV. The driver was a 17-year old.  His 16-year-old passenger died, as did an adult in another vehicle. The driver was in intensive care.
  5. June, 2016: Authorities in Arizona believe the woman who caused a deadly crash was driving under the influence of marijuana. Court documents reveal the woman was driving at least 75 mph in a 40 mph zone when she crossed the center line, plowing into an oncoming vehicle and killing a man and his daughter.   A 2-year-old and 4-year-old were injured.
  6. In Virginia, a 27-year-old father drove under the influence of marijuana with three children in the car.  He  collided with an oncoming train and the youngest, a 3-year-old girl, died on March 25, 2015.  Last month he was sentenced to three years in prison.

We wrote about bicyclists’ deaths recently.   In Boulder County, three died in two accidents in May.  Here’s a video from the report after Peyton Knowlton’s death, which occurred in Longmont: