When Lakeisha Holloway plowed her ’96 Oldsmobile 4-door sedan into a group of pedestrians on the Las Vegas Strip last month, the reasons behind the reckless act were baffling. Yet, the results were quickly apparent.
Holloway, 24, had her toddler in the car with her. Luckily, the 3-year-old was unharmed. Not so lucky was Jessica Valenzuela, 32, of Buckeye, Arizona. Valenzuela was lodged under the sedan for more than 200 yards as other pedestrians ran alongside, yelling and pounding on Holloway’s car, trying to get her to stop the vehicle.
Valenzuela later died at the city’s University Medical Center from multiple blunt-force injuries, her death ruled a homicide. Thirty-seven others were injured, six critically.
It was the Sunday night before Christmas.
Holloway’s mental health was obviously in question, but it was eventually determined she was also high on marijuana. Although the impairment from the drug is hard to measure, the “active marijuana” in Holloway’s blood was 3.5 nanograms per milliliter and her metabolite level 23.6 ng/mL. Nevada Revised Statutes state that it’s illegal for anyone to drive or control a vehicle on a highway or public premises with marijuana levels of 2 ng/mL or greater of blood or 10 ng/mL or greater of urine.
While proponents of marijuana have varied reasons why they espouse its legalization, the question still arises: Isn’t any legislation that increases the availability, acceptance or normalization of an addictive drug in society harmful?
Holloway now sits in a medically restricted unit at the Clark County Detention Center. One of her victims lost her life. Holloway’s little girl lost a mother.
And all the victims on the sidewalk that evening lost something – money, peace of mind, security, family to name a few.
And then there are the cumulative harms to the community and costs to society in general: the cost of emergency responders to the scene and the medical care for all of the victims, the cost of the investigation, incarceration and impending prosecution and future litigation.
And who will care and pay for and take care of Holloway’s little girl?
Can we assume all of these far-reaching costs and losses are because Holloway opted to use marijuana and then get behind the wheel? Maybe or maybe not. But one thing we know for sure is that marijuana impairs judgement and driving, and we’re more likely to have incidents like this as usage of marijuana increases.