This morning, the House Health Committee discussed SB 3—NC Compassionate Care Act, which would legalize marijuana for a variety of “medical” purposes. During the meeting, Corinne LaMarca testified against the bill, sharing the story of her daughter, Jennifer. She shared that Jennifer was an excellent student and a talented athlete. She studied Intelligence and Analysis Research in college and wanted to use this degree to fight illicit drugs. She had an amazing future ahead of her.
One night, Jennifer was called into work early. While driving there, she was hit by an oncoming car so hard that her car was thrown across the road and into the front of a nearby building. The damage to the building was so extensive that the wall collapsed on top of her car, killing Jennifer instantly.
The other driver, though, had no idea what he had just done. This man was uninjured enough to be able to remove himself from his car. He and his car reeked of marijuana, which he had obtained for “medical” purposes. He even admitted to smoking it right before the accident.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), marijuana affects areas of the brain that control the body’s movements, balance, coordination, memory, and judgment. This causes a slowed reaction time and ability to make decisions, impaired coordination, and a distorted perception.
Driving under the influence includes driving under the influence of marijuana. The difference between marijuana and alcohol is that while blood alcohol content can be measured with a breathalyzer, the equivalent for marijuana is still in development. Dr. Tara Lovegood, one of the researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology working on developing a breathalyzer for marijuana, said in an interview, “The cannabis breathalyzer is in its infancy . . . we will be working on the science of cannabis breathalyzer measurements for many years.”
Amongst many other health risks, marijuana significantly impairs driving like alcohol, and yet we currently have no way to measure when someone’s levels are too high to drive safely. When you can’t measure something consistently, it becomes next to impossible to minimize the risks involved. This is possibly one of the reasons why a study done in Canada found that there was a significant increase in motor vehicle crash-related healthcare visits at a population level once marijuana was legalized for “medical” uses.
As LaMarca said during her testimony, “[Jennifer] lost her life because of a medical marijuana driver, and countless others will do the same.”
Please visit NC Family’s Action Center and urge your House members to OPPOSE medical marijuana!