Study finds pot plays bigger role in deadly crashes

By Elizabeth Campbell, General assignment reporter, ecampbell@wjxt.com
Published On: Jun 11 2014 04:21:23 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 11 2014 06:40:00 AM EDT

Marijuana is playing a bigger role in deadly crashes according to a new study from Columbia University.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Marijuana is playing a bigger role in deadly crashes, according to a new study from Columbia University.

The study finds that between 2000 and 2010, the number of crashes in which marijuana played a role tripled. Marijuana contributed to 12 percent of traffic deaths in 2010.

Studies found that drugged driving was more common among younger people.

One in eight high school seniors admitted to driving after smoking marijuana, and nearly half of drivers who were killed who tested positive for marijuana were younger than 25.

This comes as Florida voters are being asked to legalized medical marijuana with a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall.

Florida State Sen. Aaron Bean supports medical marijuana, but not in the way the bill is currently drafted. He said it is written too loosely and, if passed in its current state, could be dangerous.

“Even if it’s for medical use, it’s still subject to abuse –- yes, more crashes, more overdoses, more kids doing bad things out there," Bean said. "I have three teens. I think this is horrible and scary already in a world filled with drugs already that introduces a new element.”

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is also reminding people that drugged driving is just as bad as drunken driving, and the consequences are just as severe.

“So much can happen in such a short distance, and it can become deadly and could affect the rest of your life and could lead to criminal charges,” said JSO spokeswoman Melissa Bujeda.

Bean supported a bill that would be specifically for the strain of marijuana, Charlotte's Web, which has been proven to help children and some adults with seizures. He said it's not smoked, you can't get high off of it, and it would be given by a doctor. So he said there would not be an option for abuse.

The bill passed the Florida Legislature this year and awaits Gov. Rick Scott's signature.

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