Is weekend wreck a sign of 'high' times in Colorado?

7:18 PM, Jan 13, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - A weekend car crash near Denver gained a lot of attention because troopers say a stoned driver ran into their parked patrol cars.

LEARN MORE ABOUT LEGALIZED MARIJUANA IN COLORADO

To be clear, this car crash was going to make news whether the driver was high as a kite or stone-cold sober.

"This person hit two patrol cars in one crash," said Trooper Nate Reid of the Colorado State Patrol.

Troopers arrested 23-year-old Keith Kilbey of Arvada saying he was high on marijuana at the time of the accident on Saturday.

It was day 11 of legal pot sales in Colorado.

What everyone wants to know about this accident is whether it marks the first serious incident to come out of legalizing marijuana.

"I don't know. I wish I could tell you," Reid said.

If the charges against Kilbey are true, we may never know whether the pot came from one of Colorado's new legal shops.

Kilbey's family told us he didn't want to talk, and the troopers aren't after the stores.

"We're not going to ask somebody where they got their marijuana," Reid said, "just like we're not going to ask somebody where they got their alcohol."

Which means that people who have strong views for or against marijuana are going to see what you want to see in this story.

To the officers, though, it really doesn't matter whether a substance is legal or not.

"We just want people to be responsible with it," Reid said. "Try whatever it is out at home, please don't put anybody else in jeopardy: our officers, road workers, people on the road, your family, my family, it doesn't end well."

Ed Wood of Morrisson, Colorado knows something about that.

"Brian's daughter was born two months after he was killed," Wood said.

On the iPad he carries, Wood keeps a picture of the crumpled car his son Brian drove back in 2010.

Brian's wife Erin and their unborn child survived the crash when an SUV tumbled into them on a Washington state highway.

The child recently turned three years old.

"Last month, she says 'mama, where's daddy?' And Erin said, 'well, sweetheart, um, he's in heaven. He was killed in a car crash and he's in heaven,'" Wood said.

According to Wood, the other driver in that incident had meth and heroin in the bloodstream, as well as pot.

"[Marijuana] was part of the cocktail. It was part of what caused it," Wood said.

You can count Wood among those who worries more people may experiment with pot because it's legal-- and not know their limits.

Pro-marijuana advocates argue that these fears are overstated.

"We believe it's certainly safer to do it than drunk driving," said Mike Elliott of the Marijuana Industry Group. "But regardless, we have to take the lead in encouraging people not to use marijuana and drive."

To that end, Elliott says the pot industry has been supportive of efforts to educate the public on the laws governing marijuana.

This weekend's crash still has a lengthy legal process ahead. It will be weeks before the blood test for THC is completed.

In the meantime, it can serve as a reminder that the law puts the responsibility with the person in the driver's seat.

Between January 1-13, CSP says it has encountered 28 people who were impaired by pot.

Not all of them were driving at the time.

It's a small fraction of the nearly 14-thousand people CSP has contacted in the line of duty in that same period of time.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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