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Medical Marijuana: Ohio Mom Warns of Dangers of Impaired Driving


Monday, February 8, 2021   

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An Ohio mom whose daughter was killed in an accident caused by a marijuana-impaired driver is making it her mission to spare other families from a similar tragedy.

Corinne Gasper's 22-year-old daughter Jennifer was driving to work in 2012 in the early hours of the morning, when her car was T-boned by another vehicle that ran a red light. Jennifer died at the scene.

Gasper, director of development for Parents Opposed to Pot, who lives in Delaware County, said the driver was high on medical marijuana he had purchased from Michigan where it was legal.

"Marijuana is an hallucinogenic and medical marijuana is no different than marijuana," Gasper asserted. "There's no difference whatsoever. It gets you feeling the same way. There's no precautions written on the label saying don't drive, don't use heavy machinery."

Ohio legalized medical marijuana in 2016, and Gasper explained the drug can affect a person's ability to make decisions and react quickly, and affects their physical coordination.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol is still compiling its final data for 2020, but through Nov. 19 there were more than 1,300 marijuana-involved traffic crashes, a 1.2% increase from all of 2019.

Medical marijuana can reduce chronic pain and minimize the side effects of cancer treatments. In Ohio, it can be recommended for certain conditions by a physician, who must hold a Certificate to Recommend from the State Medical Board of Ohio.

Gasper is concerned recreational use will become legal.

"We look at medical marijuana like the Trojan horse," Gasper contended. "It opened the door and got them in and before you know it we're going to have recreational marijuana. And you know that was done through the legislature, that wasn't done through a vote. The people don't want it. It was already voted out a couple of years before."

Attitudes toward marijuana use are changing, as research shows fewer young people believe it is harmful.

Gasper argued marijuana is not only a gateway drug, but today's strains are much stronger than those of the past.

"I'm a child of the 70s, when we were growing up the strength was between one and three; at the high end 5% THC," Gasper explained. "Today with these concentrates they have out there they're as high as 98% THC."

Adverse effects of marijuana include psychotic reactions, and some experts say long-term use is connected to cognitive decline in youth.

Gasper founded Jennifer's Messengers, a group that educates about the influence of driving under the influence of marijuana.

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