Driver accused of causing crash that hurt 6 was high on pot, DA says

DENVER — A 22-year-old woman has been charged with multiple counts of assault after she allegedly crashed her car into another vehicle while high on marijuana last week.

Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey formally charged Emily Strock with two counts of vehicular assault, four counts of third degree assault, one count of driving under the influence of marijuana.

Strock was speeding eastbound on Colfax Avenue about 2:30 a.m. on July 21 when she ran a red light at Speer Boulevard and collided with another vehicle, the charges allege.

Six people were hurt in the crash. The charges also allege that Strock was under the influence of marijuana at the time. One of the crash victims was still in the hospital Thursday.

According to Strock’s arrest affidavit, she admitted to “drinking one beer and smoked a bowl of marijuana,” before driving. Police say she was driving 60 mph in a 30 mph zone.

The suspect was released from custody on $50,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 5.

Crashes like these are attracting attention in Washington, D.C. In Congress Thursday, they called the situation in Colorado extremely concerning.

Smart Colorado’s Diane Carlson calls the accident a wake-up call about marijuana potency and use in Colorado. “This is such a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for that 24-year-old and all those lives and unfortunately we’re hearing a lot of things that a lot of people are afraid to take to the press on, and I think there’s going to be, sad to say, more developments.”

A just-completed study on medical marijuana by University of Colorado researchers found the proportion of marijuana-positive drivers involved in fatal crashes in Colorado increased dramatically since the middle of 2009.

That’s when medical marijuana was commercialized in the state.

At congressional hearings Thursday, a National Traffic Highway Safety Administration study on Colorado fatalities from 2007-2012 due out in January was front and center. “While Colorado’s overall traffic fatalities decreased by 15 percent over that same time, marijuana fatalities increased 100 percent,” Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana said.

Lawmakers concluded much more needs to be learned about THC intoxication and setting standards in states like Colorado.

“People are just kind of trying it and seeing what it’s like and it is a very dangerous situation,” Diane Carlson says.

Researchers in Colorado are gathering data to make recommendations on marijuana intoxication guidelines. Those are expected in January.

6 comments

  • cheetah

    One cannot say marijuana alone caused this accident; alcohol contributed as well. I wonder why the story doesn’t mention her breathalyzer results, as they must’ve administered the test if she admitted to drinking.

    • Jack

      A beer alone is almost harmless and in most cases not enough to cause people to drive this badly.

      The difference between alcohol and marijuana is that people can enjoy alcohol without getting drunk whereas no one can enjoy marijuana without getting high. That’s the main difference between the two. A few normal glasses of beer are almost always harmless, they barely have any effect on your driving. Not to mention that for many people marijuana is a gateway drug, so even when legal marijuana shouldn’t be sold to everyone. It’s not a “theory” that many people start smoking marijuana and end up taking heroin and cocaine.

      At any event, statistics show that marijuana fatalities have increased 100% whereas overall fatalities have decreased by 15%. In the UK last year alcohol was responsible for only 15% of all traffic fatalities. So let’s stop talking as if everyone who drinks were an alcoholic.

      • Cheetah

        “A few normal glasses of beer are almost always harmless, they barely have any effect on your driving.”–these excuses sound as if they are coming from a truly functional alcoholic…one that even drives. Drunk drivers are a bigger public health menace, and kill far more people, than people arrested for pot possession. Also, your statistic’s source please? Because marijuana has never directly caused a fatality (by directly I mean an overdose). Alcohol Overdose? A perennial problem at colleges and universities across the country. Good luck finding those stats…

    • Jack

      Oh so now we’re resorting to personal insults…all in the name of our wonderful weed.
      You think people get drunk after a few normal glasses of beer? NO! As a matter of fact, normal people can drink alcohol and still be fit to drive as long as they stay within the legal limit. A beer doesn’t usually go beyond this limit.

      The problem with marijuana is that it’s been ignored untill recently. It became popular in the early 90’s. People were taking other stuff in the 80’s and 70’s. There are no reliable statistics on how much marijuana affects driving. Recent studies don’t paint a favorable picture of marijuana.

      My information comes from official websites, this article quotes official sources as well. A 2012 study done at a university in Canada shows that people who smoke within three hours of starting to drive are twice as likely to get into an accident than people who drink. How did smokers react to this study? ” It’s all lies!!!!! It’s fake!!!!! Alcohol is bad!!! Marijuana is good!!!!”. In the UK alcohol has been responsible for only 15% of all road fatalities last year. It’s official. The information is there. All you have to do is google it.

      For you to blame one stupid beer and act as if a bowl of marijuana didn’t really count is just ridiculous. What will you say after marijuana starts causing more accidents than alcohol? Seriously, what will you say then?

      • VegasVic

        A lot of valid and invalid points are raised by both positions. The BAC still needs to be addressed as most DUI driver’s claim to have consumed only one or two drinks. What’s relevant to the UK and/or Canada isn’t necessarily relevant to the U.S..

  • jules

    Driving under the influence of ANYTHING is never a smart idea be it one beer or a bowl of weed. One beer CAN affect your driving and I know this from personal experience. I can feel a difference when I drink one beer so to be on the safe side I don’t drive AT ALL. I also don’t drive when I smoke either because it affects me. Same thing can also be said about medications. No one should drive when they’ ve got any chemical altering substance in their body regardless of what it is or if they feel the effects. This is why it’s called driving under the influence. Drinking one beer and getting behind the wheel still counts as drinking and driving. Just because you might be under the legal limit doesn’t mean you’re not drinking and driving. This is my opinion. You can take it or not but this isn’t to start a back and forth petty internet argument. Everyone is entitled to have one and people don’t have to agree to it but there is no point in arguing over it

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