We Save Lives Announces Our New
Anti-Marijuana and Driving Campaign

We Save Lives and a number of other organizations including DUID Victim Voices and Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) have joined together to alert the public to the dangers of drugged driving, especially marijuana and driving . We all know drunk driving is socially unacceptable and a real threat on our highways but not so drugged driving . Just look at the comments we receive on our Facebook page every time we post something on marijuana and driving. If I see one more, "Dude, I drive better stoned," I am going to scream. You don't see similar comments when we post on drunk driving.

Although We Save Lives has been fighting this issue for years, we have renewed our efforts in light of the recent call to action on drugged driving by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The more accessible marijuana has become to the general public, the more we should be concerned about the lack of policies, legislation and education on this issue at the local, state and national levels. According to a Washington State Triple AAA study, marijuana-involved fatal crashes doubled after the drug was legalized.
Driving High Means DUI
The legalization of marijuana and current opioid crisis are rarely mentioned in the same sentence as driving safety, however, the statistics are mounting in terms of how many of us are now at risk while crossing a street or taking our children to school.

I founded MADD for a reason. Our nation was turning a blind eye to driving while drunk and I am now seeing the same trend with marijuana and opioids. To that end, We Save Lives is about to launch a “Driving High Means DUI” campaign with some of our partners. We need your help to stop people from driving under the influence of marijuana or any other drug.

We know that driving high is dangerous. Just ask Lori Carlson, the mother of Hedaia and grandmother to her unborn baby, killed by a marijuana impaired driver. Because of lax drugged driving laws, the driver was only charged with reckless driving and was back on the streets in no time. The current laws and research are trying to catch up with the current legalization but they have a long way to go. What does this mean for our driving safety?

For instance, most people don’t even know whether you can be prosecuted if you are driving after smoking or ingesting marijuana. They also believe you actually drive safer and slower. We plan to address the very real risks of driving while high, the current laws that govern it, and those that have yet to catch up with the new legislation that legalized marijuana. We do not take a position on whether the drug should be legal but object to driving under the influence of marijuana or any other drug.

Our campaign will offer a series of educational blogs designed to keep you informed and help you learn more about what is safe and what isn’t.
What Level of THC in Blood Causes Driving Impairment?
By Ed Wood

Let us provide a rational answer to a nonsensical question. It is a nonsensical question because blood is never impaired by THC. Never. Alcohol doesn’t impair blood either. These drugs only impair the brain, not the blood.

We can only test for drug content in the brain by means of an autopsy, something most drivers would reasonably object to.

We test blood as a surrogate for what’s in the brain. For alcohol, blood is a very good surrogate. Alcohol is a tiny, water-soluble molecule that rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier and quickly establishes and maintains an equilibrium concentration between what’s in the blood and what’s in the brain.

Blood is a terrible surrogate for learning the amount of THC in the brain . It’s used because we blindly follow the precedence set by alcohol, perhaps even believing the pot lobby’s mantra t hat marijuana should be regulated like alcohol. It’s also used because we haven’t proven anything else that’s any better. Oral fluid likely is somewhat better, but that may only be because it can be collected more quickly at the roadside. Blood is a terrible surrogate because unlike alcohol, THC is fat-soluble. This results in three major differences in behavior compared to alcohol:
  1. THC’s concentration in the blood rapidly drops as it is absorbed by the brain and other fatty tissues. When starting to smoke a joint, the THC level will be very high in the blood and very low in the brain. The brain’s THC level climbs rapidly at the same time that as it is declining in the blood. This is why blood THC levels can be dropping at the same time that the feeling of being high continues to increase. Since the brain acts like a sponge, soaking up the insoluble THC from the blood, THC concentration in the brain continues to rise while it is still declining in blood. Cadaver studies show THC can even remain in the brain when none can be found in the blood. Read More . . .

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It's Never OK To Drive High

Some states have now passed legislation legalizing marijuana. While these laws permit the use of marijuana, they all prohibit driving under its influence. Unfortunately, many people still perceive driving after marijuana use isn’t as dangerous as drinking and driving. But the insurance industry is already reporting higher collision claims in states with legal marijuana.

Impaired driving laws were written to deal with alcohol and generally do a poor job dealing with drugged driving. Therefore, drugged drivers frequently escape prosecution, which means no conviction, which means no punishment or accountability, which means no justice for the victim/survivor and no rehabilitation for the perpetrator, which means no protection for society.

Message from the President
Recently, our efforts have focused mainly on drugged driving.

We Save Lives conducted two workshops on roadside oral fluid testing at the Institute of Police Technology and Management (IPTM) conference in Orlando Florida this past May. We are proud to announce that IPTM is now a partner of ours. We are also participants in NHTSA's new anti-drugged driving initiative. We recently attended their second stakeholder's meeting led by Deputy Administrator, Heidi King to discuss solutions to the problem. They will be holding these meetings around the country. I believe Seattle Washington is next.

We are pleased to announce that as part of the Driving High Means DUI campaign, we have finally completed our legislative guidelines for all states, regardless of the legal status of marijuana use.  These will soon be posted on our website. We have a great team working on this campaign including Ed Wood, DUID Victim Voices, Dana Stevens, Driving High Means DUI, Project Manager, Steve Talpins, former Director of the National District Attorneys Association – American Prosecutors Research Institute’s National Traffic Law Center (NTLC), and Matt Myers, a Lieutenant with the Peachtree City, Georgia Police Department, and Coordinator of the Metro Atlanta Traffic Enforcement Network. He is also seasoned Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) Instructor and DRE Course Manager. All of these people have far more credentials than I stated.

I will also be representing We Save Lives on a panel at the ANNUAL IACP TRAINING CONFERENCE ON DRUGS, ALCOHOL, AND IMPAIRED DRIVING, this summer in Nashville, along with Steve Talpins, Matt Myers and Ed Wood. Our topic is: Creating Teamwork: Solving the Drugged Driving Problem.

We have also joined the Road to Zero Coalition and look forward to working with them on future projects.

We Save Lives have always taken a leadership role in drugged driving prevention but we need your financial investment in the cause to continue to be effective. Please give and help us save lives. Thank you!
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