Study finds 100 percent increase in fatal pot-related crashes in Colorado

DENVER - A study out this month finds the number of people killed in marijuana-related accidents in Colorado has increased 100 percent over five years.

The report comes from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, a drug prohibition group that brings together federal and local law enforcement. 

It says that in 2012 there were 78 fatalities where someone involved in the accident (a driver, bike rider, pedestrian) tested positive for marijuana, compared to 39 in 2007. 

"There's enough research that says driving under the influence of marijuana is going to affect your ability to drive a vehicle, and when that happens you're potentially a danger on the road," said Tom Gorman, director of Rocky Mountain HIDTA.

The marijuana industry is questioning the report, as the data does not indicate whether pot was a cause for the accidents.

"(Testing positive for marijuana) could mean you smoked marijuana 3 weeks ago. It does not mean you were impaired at the spot," said Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group. "And that's what this report is really failing to distinguish."

A much more encouraging sign from the data is that overall traffic deaths in Colorado went down by nearly 15 percent in that same time frame.

"They're taking huge decreases in traffic fatalities in Colorado and turning it into bad news," said Elliott.

Gorman says the facts his group has presented will speak for themselves, and may even help turn the tide back around when it comes to legal weed in Colorado.

"I honestly believe within 4 to 6 years there will be a ballot initiative to overturn 64," said Gorman.

"Would you support overturning Amendment 64?" asked 7NEWS reporter Lindsay Watts.

"Absolutely," responded Gorman.

The study looks at a variety of topics related to the impact of marijuana on Colorado. Read the full study here:

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