Experts to debate challenges of regulating stoned driving

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DENVER -- Stone driving has been a hot topic in Colorado since recreational marijuana was legalized by voters in 2012 and went into effect in January. On Friday, it will be front and center at CU Denver.

Experts will talk about the challenges of regulated stoned driving. Many people have called the growing number of stoned drivers concerning.

Six people were sent to the hospital after a crash on Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue on July 31. Police say the driver who caused it, 24-year-old Emily Strock, was "driving under the influence of marijuana."

Smart Colorado's Diane Carlson says crashed such as that one are wake-up calls about marijuana potency and use in Colorado.

“This is such a tragedy," Carlson said. "It's a tragedy for that 24-year-old and all those lives. I think there's going to be, sad to say, more developments.”

Researchers at the University of Colorado recently found the number of stoned drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado increased dramatically since the middle of 2009, when the state commercialized medical marijuana.

In May, Colorado passed a law saying drivers with 5 nanograms or more of THC per milliliter of blood is impaired, but some regulating will not be easy.

Experts will argue the pros and cons at a panel discussion at CU Denver on Friday.

“Some people would argue that it should be regulated in a similar to alcohol and others would say it’s not appropriate to regulate THC or marijuana consumption the same way that alcohol is because the pharmalogical effects are actually very different," said Lonnie Schaible, assistant professor of criminal justice at CU Denver.

Researchers in Colorado are gathering data to make recommendations on marijuana intoxication guidelines but aren't expected to make any suggestions until January.

 

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