Driver accused of causing crash that hurt 6 was high on pot, DA says

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DENVER -- A 22-year-old woman has been charged with multiple counts of assault after she allegedly crashed her car into another vehicle while high on marijuana last week.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey formally charged Emily Strock with two counts of vehicular assault, four counts of third degree assault, one count of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Strock was speeding eastbound on Colfax Avenue about 2:30 a.m. on July 21 when she ran a red light at Speer Boulevard and collided with another vehicle, the charges allege.

Six people were hurt in the crash. The charges also allege that Strock was under the influence of marijuana at the time. One of the crash victims was still in the hospital Thursday.

According to Strock's arrest affidavit, she admitted to "drinking one beer and smoked a bowl of marijuana," before driving. Police say she was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The suspect was released from custody on $50,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 5.

Crashes like these are attracting attention in Washington, D.C. In Congress Thursday, they called the situation in Colorado extremely concerning.

Smart Colorado's Diane Carlson calls the accident a wake-up call about marijuana potency and use in Colorado. "This is such a tragedy. It's a tragedy for that 24-year-old and all those lives and unfortunately we're hearing a lot of things that a lot of people are afraid to take to the press on, and I think there's going to be, sad to say, more developments."

A just-completed study on medical marijuana by University of Colorado researchers found the proportion of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado increased dramatically since the middle of 2009.

That's when medical marijuana was commercialized in the state.

At congressional hearings Thursday, a National Traffic Highway Safety Administration study on Colorado fatalities from 2007-2012 due out in January was front and center. "While Colorado's overall traffic fatalities decreased by 15 percent over that same time, marijuana fatalities increased 100 percent," Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana said.

Lawmakers concluded much more needs to be learned about THC intoxication and setting standards in states like Colorado.

"People are just kind of trying it and seeing what it's like and it is a very dangerous situation," Diane Carlson says.

Researchers in Colorado are gathering data to make recommendations on marijuana intoxication guidelines. Those are expected in January.




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