The Home Front: Highway deaths with pot in the bloodstream is up, but those with enough to be deemed legally impaired ‘dropped sharply’

“The number of highway deaths involving Colorado drivers who had marijuana in their system grew again in 2017, a new state study shows,” reports The Gazette in Colorado Springs. “At the same time, traffic fatalities in which drivers had enough marijuana in their bloodstream to be deemed legally impaired dropped sharply, from 52 in 2016 to 35 last year. The reason for this seeming contradiction: Marijuana can remain in the bloodstream for weeks, so a positive blood test may not mean a driver was stoned at the time of a deadly crash. As the Colorado Department of Transportation study notes, ‘The presence of a cannabinoid does not necessarily indicate recent use of marijuana or impairment.’ Overall, the number of fatalities involving positive tests for marijuana has nearly doubled since recreational legalization in 2014, from 75 that year to 125 in 2016 and 139 last year. Colorado law specifies that drivers with five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in a milliliter of their blood can be prosecuted for driving under the influence of marijuana.”

“A Greeley recycling company will purchase a large wood grinder to help cut down on wood waste, thanks in part to a state grant,” reported The Greeley Tribune. “The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment awarded Go Green Pallet and Recycling Co., 937 A St. in Greeley, the $160,000 grant to help the company as it expands its recycling program and bring more green-sector jobs to the state, according to a news release from the company. The grant was awarded through the Recycling Resources Economic Opportunity competitive grant program.”

“Three people with criminal convictions out of Boulder County stand among the 26 Coloradans to whom Gov. John Hickenlooper granted pardons on Thursday,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Jeffrey Swedlund, who lives in Broomfield, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in 1994 in Boulder County Court. Stephen Richards, who lives in Boulder, pleaded guilty to a felony drug possession charge in 1993. Justin M. Gourley, who lives in Lafayette, pleaded guilty to a felony harassment by stalking charge in 1999. The 26 people convicted on Thursday received a letter from Hickenlooper and a grant of clemency, which dictates that they have received a “full and unconditional pardon.” The pardon means that all rights of citizenship, including voting, jury duty, holding public office and firearms privileges are restored and all ‘civil disabilities and public sufferings associated with this conviction are removed.'”

“Loveland, get ready to be a-maized. Because another shucking good time is heading our way,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “Advertisement The annual Loveland Corn Roast festival is back this weekend and bringing with it the annual hubbub of the classic cornhole tournament, beloved duck race and more roasted corn than you can shake a cob at. But you probably already knew that. After all, the Corn Roast Festival is a Loveland mainstay that is being held for the 37th consecutive year (though the festival’s history actually extends back more than 100 years).”

“More than 190 responses to a town-issued survey indicate Silverthorne voters have little taste to start paying a property tax, even if it means new parks, trails or quality-of-life improvements in town will crawl to a standstill,” reports Summit Daily. “Going into the survey, town officials had contended the rate at which new public amenities come online would slow dramatically without a new source of funding. Also, a property tax could help diversify the town’s coffers with a less volatile revenue stream than sale taxes, which Silverthorne depends on for its primary source of funding. Over half of respondents said they think Silverthorne is headed in the right direction, but the survey also found that 60 percent were unlikely to support a property tax measure on November’s ballot.”

“Steamboat Springs City Council rejected a resolution that would have placed a 5 percent tax on all marijuana sales in the city before voters,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Council rejected the measure 5 to 2, with council members Sonja Macys and Kathi Meyer voting in favor of it. The 5 percent tax was expected to generate up to $720,000 for the city’s community support budget and city youth programs in 2019. It would have sunseted after 10 years if not renewed. In creating a dedicated funding source for community support, council hoped to maintain funding for those services and free up the money the city currently spends on community support and youth programs for other uses.”

“It’s that time of year again. The Colorado State Fair — one of Pueblo’s most anticipated events of the year — gets rolling today for the first of its 11-day run,” reports The Pueblo Chieftain. “This is the 146th edition of the expo, which has been held in Pueblo from Day 1. Crews were making last-minute preparations and getting things in place at the Fairgrounds on Thursday to get ready for the first rush of crowds that will sweep through today.”

“Earlier this month, Morgan Stanley analysis told its clients that it had grossly underestimated its previous valuation of Google’s driverless car division, Waymo,” reports Vail Daily. “Our previous work has shown how Waymo’s autonomous robotaxi taxi business could be worth (approximately) $75 billion,” a team of analysts led by Brian Nowak noted to investors. “But that is likely just the beginning, as there are two other business models — logistics/delivery and licensing — now coming into view … which we see leading to a total (approximately) $175 billion potential Waymo valuation.” The $175 billion valuation puts Waymo ahead of GM, Ford and Tesla combined.”

“A Cañon City man is facing nine charges after allegedly driving recklessly through town and causing a traffic accident Aug. 11 in the 2300 block of Central Avenue,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record.

“Sterling Regional MedCenter is pleased to welcome two new residents, Cameron Scranton, MD and Benjamin Bosen, DO to the Sterling Rural Training Program,” reports The Sterling Journal-Advocate. “The Banner Health North Colorado Family Medicine (NCFM) Residency program offers only two residents a position in the Sterling Rural Training Program every year. After beginning their training at NCFM in Greeley, residents move to Sterling for the remainder of their training to specialize in rural family medicine.”

“While on routine patrol around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, Log Lane Village Dep. Marshal Josh Katz knew there was something off when he spotted a 2009 white Honda Civic parked on the wrong side of the street facing the wrong direction,” reports The Fort Morgan Times. “What he did not know was that what he thought would be a routine traffic stop would lead to him pursuing the vehicle at speeds of up to 130 miles per hour on eastbound Interstate 76, ultimately making an arrest and recovering a large quantity of prescription pills and other illegal drugs.”

“A group of east county residents have filed a lawsuit against a Boulder County Commission decision to expand a floodway onto their properties, alleging the process’ execution amounted to a violation of their due process rights,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “The litigation — which seeks to reverse the decision — aligns slightly with the interests of the Denver-based extraction firm, Crestone Peak Resources, whose efforts to develop a nearby site with a host of oil and gas wells has been complicated by the same re-mapping decision. The company levies the decision to rezone the area was done in part to subvert its plans. According to the complaint filed this week, commissioners approved the floodway expansion over the resistance of local residents, who said the re-mapping would limit development on their private properties — some of which are functioning farms — and cause their flood insurance rates to skyrocket.”

“Three big projects in Adams County will lead to the hiring of around 3,400 workers in a four-month window in the coming weeks,” reports The Denver Post. “But with the metro area’s unemployment rate scratching historic lows, there’s a risk those efforts could devolve into a scavenger hunt. “I can’t recall a time where we had so many large employers moving into the area at the same time seeking such a large number of employees,” said Tricia Allen, a senior vice president and 18-year veteran at Adams County Economic Development. Amazon has built a new robotic fulfillment center at I-25 and 144th Avenue in Thornton, but it still needs 1,500 humans to help get online orders into boxes for shipping. Hiring started in July for an opening later this month. The fulfillment center, spanning 855,000 square feet and four levels, needs to be game-day ready for the holiday rush.”

“State and federal officials visited La Plata County earlier this week to do a joint, preliminary damage assessment on areas affected by flooding near the 416 Fire’s burn scar,” reports The Durango Herald. “Local officials guided members from the Colorado Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency around places severely hit by flood damage north of Durango, including Honeyville, the Hermosa Hills Condominiums and the KOA Campground. On Tuesday, the team met with private homeowners to assess the need for individual assistance from FEMA. On Wednesday, representatives met with local officials about damage to public infrastructure, including road repairs, sewer damage and power lines.”

“The last two days of Michaella Surat’s trial highlighted the crux of the case: Was the CSU student resisting arrest and obstructing a police officer when she was taken into custody on April 6, 2017, or were her actions a response to unreasonable force by a police officer?” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Surat’s arrest gained international notoriety after a bystander at Bondi Beach Bar in Old Town Fort Collins caught a portion of her interaction with Fort Collins Police Officer Randall Klamser on video. The 9-second clip shows Klamser forcing Surat to the ground on the pavement outside the bar. The jury went into deliberations Thursday afternoon and is expected to reach a verdict Friday on the misdemeanor resisting arrest and obstructing a peace officer charges Surat faces.”

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

2 COMMENTS

  1. “At the same time, traffic fatalities in which drivers had enough marijuana in their bloodstream to be deemed legally impaired dropped sharply, from 52 in 2016 to 35 last year….”

    Or perhaps another, alternate explanation for the seeming “contradiction”:
    One-size-fits-all legislation is never truly effective.
    Similar substances/compounds have widely different effects on different people.
    (example – penicillin is a wonder drug for some, a killer for others)
    Levels of non-impairment for one/some, may likely be impariment for another/others.

    I have friends whom can drink A LOT, and yet still function, normally.
    If I have ONE single beer, I lose motor skills. Thus, I don’t drink.

    I’ve seen people whom can consume large quantities of marijuana, and function normally (even unrecognizable as “under the influence”), yet have seen others whom turn to states of stupor, near-idiocy.

    A relatively small amount of THC in the bloodstream does not indicate non-impairment.

    This is ALWAYS what heppens when people & societies accept reductionist methods and thinking patterns.

    • Yep, agreed with Philo, as the range of consumption and tolerance levels increases, it’s hard to infer actual intoxication level. For similar reasons, just because marijuana intoxication doesn’t result in overdosing doesn’t mean people can’t make bad decisions and end up in the hospital. We also see people at urgent care who come in with acute marijuana intoxication.

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