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December 2004
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Drug Czar Science

Campaign to Urge Teens to ‘Steer Clear of Pot’
During National Drunk and Drugged Driving (3D) Prevention Month

Notice that the Drug Czar isn’t suggesting that teens steer clear of alcohol? That’s because this campaign really doesn’t care about teen driving safety. The plan behind the tactic is to use the fear of teen accidents to encourage more zero-tolerance drugged driving laws (laws that don’t test for impairment, but rather any incidence of THC in the body, which could be from smoking a joint several days earlier).
The problem is that there are no reliable studies showing high risk from marijuana and driving (certainly there are risks, but studies show that the risks are well below alcohol or fatigue). So the Drug Czar has to create his own results.
The release mentions:

“the Drug Czar cited higher marijuana rates among young driving crash victims”

So I went out and bought a copy of the study that the Drug Czar cited: Epidemiology of Alcohol and Other Drug Use Among Motor Vehicle Crash Victims Admitted to a Trauma Center, 2004. Briefly, here’s what the study told me.

  1. It covered a “limited sample of seriously injured patients at an eastern US Level 1 trauma center,”
  2. “…we were unable to accurately distinguish between drivers, passengers, and pedestrians due to the lack of specific crash information.” and
  3. “the qualitative results of the POC [Point of Collection] and laboratory immunoassay tests do not permit any interpretation regarding impairment”

So, in a limited study of crash victims (including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians), it was determined that some of them had used marijuana at some time prior to the crash, and of those who had, the highest incidence was in the 18-25 age group.
Yep. Drug Czar Science.

[cross-posted at The Agitator]

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