There are many reasons why Proposition 64 — the initiative seeking to legalize recreational marijuana in California — is bad for our state. Perhaps the most compelling is the increased loss of life we can expect on our highways if it passes.
Several years ago, we saw the devastating effects of intoxicated driving when a marijuana-drugged driver crashed into a CHP motorcycle officer and a man he had stopped on the shoulder of the 101 freeway, south of Carpinteria. The CHP officer was paralyzed for life, and the man he had pulled over was killed.
In Colorado, such marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by close to two-thirds (62 percent) in the year following marijuana legalization in 2013, and by almost half (48 percent) in the three-year average following legalization. Despite these grim statistics, Prop. 64’s special-interest proponents refused to include a scientific standard for marijuana intoxication, making it extremely hard for peace officers to keep impaired drivers off our highways.
In 2015, 252 people were killed in marijuana-related traffic collisions in California. If we extrapolate Colorado’s average increase of 48 percent each year over three years, we can expect more than 120 additional deaths on our highways — each year for the next three years — if Prop. 64 passes. Is legal marijuana really worth an annual loss exceeding 120 lives?
The abuse of alcohol and other substances already causes far too much havoc, tragedy, and heartache in California. Let’s not repeat Colorado’s big mistake. Vote no on Proposition 64.
Bill Brown is Sheriff and Coroner of Santa Barbara County.