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Number of Marijuana-Impaired Drivers
Involved in Deadly Crashes Jumps 48 Percent
in One Year in Washington State.
 
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission released new data showing that legalizing marijuana increases marijuana-impaired traffic fatalities. From 2010 to 2014, some 60 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes were tested for drugs. About 20 percent (349 drivers) tested positive for marijuana.
 
The new data can distinguish between drivers who were high at the time of the crash as opposed to those who had residual traces of marijuana in their systems from use days earlier. The number of drivers involved in fatalities who tested positive for active THC increased from 65 percent (38 of 60 drivers) in 2013 to 85 percent (75 of 89 drivers) in 2014, the year Washington implemented legal pot.
 
About half of these drivers exceeded the 5 ng/ml THC designation denoting impairment in Washington’s legalization law. The driver with the highest THC level tested at 70 mg/ml. Half of the THC positive drivers were also impaired by alcohol, the majority exceeding 0.08 BAC.
 
The largest increase in active THC positive drivers involved in fatal crashes were young males ages 21 to 25, from 6 in 2013 to 19 in 2014.  
 
From 2008 to 2014, more than 1,100 people died in impaired collisions in Washington State, accounting for nearly half of all traffic deaths and more than one-fifth of serious injury collisions.
 
Read and view news account of this story here. Read Washington Traffic Safety Commission advisory here.
 
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Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Patient
Sues Company over Firing for Drug Use
 
Our family has been watching a huge pine tree just behind our house lose its needles over the summer. An arborist came yesterday to begin the process of taking down the tree, killed by the Southern Pine Beetle, which now threatens all the pine trees in our neighborhood. As we chatted, I mentioned I was writing a story for The Marijuana Report about the increasing tendency of marijuana users to sue employers for the right to use the drug medically off or even on the job.
 
He was astounded. ”Our industry is the third most dangerous one in the nation,” he said. “You mean now people can sue us for running a drug-free workplace to protect our employees and our clients?”
 
The answer is yes. A Massachusetts woman has sued a national marketing firm with an office in Boston for firing her one day after she started work because her drug test came back positive for marijuana. She told the firm when it hired her that she used marijuana to treat her Crohn’s disease and is suing the firm for discrimination and invasion of privacy. She says the employer told her it follows federal, not state law.
 
The state’s new medical marijauna law explicitly states that employers do not have to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace, but it does not deal with the issue of afterhours use.
 
State Representative Frank Smizik has sponsored a bill that would prohibit employers from firing medical marijauna patients. “As a state, we have chosen to recognize the benefits of medical marijauna, and this choice comes with the responsibility of ensuring that patients can access their medicine without the fear of losing their livelihoods,” he says.
 
The issue comes down to this: is an employee who uses marijuana in the evening after work, or in the morning before work, impaired? If yes, whose right should prevail? The patient’s right to use marijauna? Or the employer’s right to protect its employees and the public it serves?
 
Ask the arborist. Or our neighbors.
 
Read story here.
 
This is The Marijuana Report, a weekly e-newsletter produced by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Subscribe to The Marijuana Report and visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.

About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy

About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) 

SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy. 

SAM has four main goals: 
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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