Jennifer’s life was tragically taken by a driver impaired by “medical” marijuana. Jennifer’s Messengers aims to keep her memory alive and to work toward safer highways through education and awareness of the dangers of marijuana-impaired driving.
Jennifer’s Messengers is sounding the alarm on marijuana driving dangers, debunking the misconceptions that driving under the influence of marijuana is safe. I have spoken to many teens in my community who are inundated with false messages. They often express to me that they hear people drive better stoned because, they claim, they drive slower and have less anxiety when they are under the influence of THC in marijuana. That is a complete misconception that has been perpetrated across our nation, thus giving our youth and others the excuse to drive impaired, endangering their lives and the lives of others. They need to be taught that the word “high” means impaired.
My mission is to educate the facts.
The clear truth, what scientists have proven, is that impaired driving under the influence of marijuana is a very dangerous and destructive act. Using marijuana and driving can lead to devastating consequences for the driver, passengers, and people on the roads, including bicyclists, pedestrians and even our pets.
There is an eye opening article in the British Medical Journal that states there is a direct link showing that driving under the influence of cannabis doubles the risk of a crash. A user may get away with driving impaired several times, but eventually, it will result in an arrest or a serious crash. The average time someone drives impaired is 80 times before they get caught, and this fact alone should scare all of us a great deal. Our safety is being highly compromised by the habitual users. These risks are just too great to take with your life or the lives of others. Listen to this podcast with Dr. Marilyn Heustis, Ph.D. Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, who recently retired as the Chief Chemistry and Drug Metabolism expert at the National Institute on Drug Abuse and National Institutes of Health.
It has been shown that early education on these risks of drug use, as early as 3rd grade, can help reduce impaired driving crashes through awareness and intervention. Our youth need to be educated on the drug itself and the dangers related to driving. The more you know about how it affects the body, the more you will clearly see a person could not possibly be driving safely with this drug on board. As mentioned in the study, Effects of a School-based Substance Use Among Adolescents, school based prevention programs have been recognized as the more effective strategies for reducing substance use among youth. These programs are effective and lower the risk of impaired driving, but only if the students are engaged in learning in school.
The Designated Driver program has a high success rate too. College students share that they successfully utilize a designated driver with their friends and fellow students on a regular basis. Most learned this concept in the D.A.R.E. program in their high schools. I feel this is a very responsible and reasonable answer to have fewer impaired drivers on the road. But many of these programs have been discontinued and are no longer in existence in our schools.
There is a campaign underway that states, “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different,” but it does not address the delayed effects of consuming marijuana edibles. There is a big difference between the time a person consumes an edible and when the drug (THC) gets processed into the brain. They may feel just fine when they get into their car, but within 20 minutes to a few hours later, they can have significant impairment and can find themselves behind the wheel of a killing machine. So the truth is, how you feel after consuming edibles is irrelevant when it comes to operating a motor vehicle. Also, is it reasonable to rely on an “impaired person” to know if they “feel safe” to be on the road?
Jennifer’s Messengers has developed infographics that can be utilized for educational purposes.
Marijuana and drugged impaired driving are a real problem on our roads. Innocent people are being killed and maimed on a daily basis. All these tragedies are totally avoidable, and we need to do all we can to educate, raise awareness, and give our law enforcement the tools they need to successfully prosecute impaired drivers before they kill someone you love.
Road fatalities are increasing as more state legalize marijuana. It is estimated that an additional 6,800 people will be killed on our roads annually if federal legalization of marijuana passes. These legalization policies promote more marijuana use and imply these products are safe to use. In many states, warning labels with the risks of marijuana-impaired driving are not even mandated.
My daughter Jennifer lost her life to a medical marijuana impaired driver from Michigan, a state that has legal medical marijuana and borders Ohio, where marijuana was not legal at the time (2012). He was driving at a rate of 82-mph in a 40-mph zone. He ran through a red light while my daughter was proceeding through a green light and crashed into the side of her car. In a blink of an eye, Jennifer lost her amazing life and future. She was an innocent victim, and he selfishly snuffed out her life.
All I can do now is fight for your safety because my daughter is not coming back. So please, be careful out there and drive defensively, even on a simple trip to the grocery store. You never know who has used marijuana anytime of the day and made the foolish decision to get in their car
Please support our efforts on educating and advocating for you.
Corinne LaMarca, Director of Jennifer’s Messengers