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Synthetic Marijuana: A New Danger to Drivers

May 8, 2014 Drunk & Distracted Driving Accidents

Drivers in North Carolina and South Carolina are reminded on a daily basis of the dangers of drinking and driving. Public service announcements, televised messages, and billboard warnings all communicate the importance of not driving under the influence. However, the effects of alcohol are not the only influence putting drivers, passengers, and pedestrians at risk. Synthetic marijuana is emerging as a new danger to the road, and its use is causing an alarming number of auto accidents.

According to medical professionals, Synthetic cannabis is a “psychoactive designer drug” often referred to as K2, Yucan Fire, or Moons Rock, among other names. The drug mimics the effect of marijuana by other means, using natural herbs combined with other chemicals.

Synthetic Drug Driving Dangers

Research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains how driving while under the influence of any mind-altering drug is both unsafe and illegal. This is similar to drinking and driving, as it places both drivers, passengers, and innocent bystanders at risk. The same research notes how specific drug effects on the brain and general functioning vary wildly. Yet, in almost all cases, this operates to decrease overall general driving ability.

The 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), found that roughly 10.3 million people over the age of 12 were guilty of driving under the influence of drugs at least once during the previous year.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2007 National Roadside Survey, 16 percent all drivers on the road at night on the weekends test positive for drugs, including over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs.

In January 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration explained its intention to increase regulation of synthetic marijuana by classifying it as a “Schedule 1” drug under the Controlled Substances Act.  This change would have serious consequences for those caught driving under the influence.  For example, truck drivers who fail a drug test as a result of synthetic marijuana would be disqualified from operating a commercial motor vehicle.

Recent Examples

Here are but two of the many reports of accidents involving the use of synthetic marijuana:

A teenager is facing criminal charges  after he allegedly caused a fatal accident while high on synthetic marijuana.  As in many cases where this occurs, the family of the injured party pursued a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator as well as the tobacco shop that allegedly sold the teen the illegal drug.

deadly car crash occurred only hours after the driver reportedly smoked synthetic marijuana purchased at a shopping mall tobacco shop.  Traveling at speeds of up to 100 mph, the driver swerved into oncoming traffic before slamming into a house.

Drugged Driving Lawsuits

Alcohol is not the only cause of driver impairment.  Driver drug use, such as that of synthetic marijuana, threatens the public as well.  If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with an impaired driver, you may be entitled to compensation.  If you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident anywhere in North Carolina or South Carolina, be sure to contact an experienced auto accident attorney who can answer any questions or concerns you may have.