North Sound News

Troopers: Blood test shows driver had 54 times the legal limit for pot

SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — Eyewitnesses said they couldn't help but notice 54-year-old Robert Collens Crawford Jr. last May.

He was driving all over a stretch of I-5. Then he rear-ended another driver. That driver pulled over, but Crawford kept going.

>>How high is too high? KIRO tests pot-smoking drivers to find out

"And witnesses continued to follow this driver until WSP and Lynnwood police officer contacted him in the city of Lynnwood," said Trooper Heather Axtman.

She said, by then, Crawford had driven off I-5 and onto a private road off 176th Street Southwest in Lynnwood.

As the trooper talked to him, a bag of marijuana fell out of his pants pocket.

In July, the toxicology lab sent back his blood results which revealed his THC levels to be 270 nanograms. The legal limit for adults over 21 years old is five nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. That's 54 times over the legal limit for marijuana in Washington State.   

"Two hundred seventy nanograms, which is 54 times the legal limit for somebody over the age of 21," Axtman said.



Nobody answered the door at Crawford's Lynnwood house in Lynnwood, where KIRO tried to get his side of the story.

Axtman says the Washington State Patrol is highlighting this case to send a message.

"Just because it is legal," Axtman said, "does not mean you smoke and get behind the wheel. That is not safe."

How dangerous is it?

Trooper Axtman offered some statistics. In 2015, there were 499 fatalities in this state. Nearly 20 percent of the drivers involved in those fatalities tested positive for marijuana.

Just as recreational marijuana became legal, some pot-smoking volunteers agreed to get behind the wheel, to show how smoking pot affects drivers.

"Oh, I hit a cone," said one driver, giggling. "I see it in the rearview mirror. Ah!"

Her THC level was seven times the legal limit. But that's still eight times less than Crawford's was.

Watch the video below.