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June 2010
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NIDA discusses drugged driving

NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse) hosted a meeting in March called “Drugged Driving: Future Research Directions” and here is the summary of that meeting.

It’s an interesting read, though frustrating since, while supposedly part of the mandate is to determine the problem’s magnitude, the participants seem to have little interest in that area, and rather have predetermined that drugged driving is the new epidemic and are looking for data to support their view, and to help them “sell” that view to the public and politicians.

For example:

Dr. McLellan explained that drugged driving is a signature issue for ONDCP. If researchers can develop sensible, evidence-based ways to move forward in this area, the public will appreciate the severity of the problem and the importance of doing something about it. ONDCP needs the facts so that it can make policy.

Doesn’t really sound like they’re looking for facts in order to determine policy, but rather that they’re desperate for fact to bolster the policy on which they’ve already decided.

Dr. Zobeck reported that ONDCP’s national drug control strategy covers approximately $16 billion worth of federal resources across 12 federal departments and agencies. The strategy addresses a wide range of activities, including prevention and treatment. Drugged driving is one of the strategy’s three signature initiatives, showing how important this issue is to ONDCP. ONDCP is developing several action items on drugged driving and will ask other government representatives to join work groups to address these items. Many of the recommendations made at this meeting fall under these items:

  1. Encourage states to adopt per se laws.
  2. Conduct more research and collect more data on drugged driving.
  3. Enhance the prevention of drugged driving by educating communities and professionals.
  4. Develop standards for toxicology laboratories.
  5. Increase training for law enforcement on identifying drugged driving.

Notice that the first item on that list is to pass laws. Second on the list is to do research. Hmmm.

Robert L. DuPont was there (shouldn’t this guy be put to pasture by now?!) and made it clear what we’ve been saying all along — that drugged driving policy has an added agenda.

No other initiative in highway safety has the potential for saving lives and reducing costs from crashes that is equal to that of dealing with the drugged driving problem. Furthermore, a major effort to address the drugged driving problem will have a significant effect on the demand for drugs and on drug use in the United States.

The first sentence is just nonsense that he pulled out of his ass. There’s absolutely no evidence to support that statement. The second sentence is where his agenda lies — criminalization of the internal possession of drugs as a demand reduction strategy.

Dr. Richard Compton explained that per se laws make possession of an illegal drug in the body while driving illegal.

Exactly. They don’t make driving impaired illegal. They use driving laws to criminalize internal possession.

There’s a lot more interesting stuff in that summary that I’m not going to go into right now, but it’s clear that this is a subject that is not going to go away.

Let me be absolutely clear. I have no problem with going after impaired drivers, whether it’s because they’re drunk, tired, drugged, or texting. But it is improper and counterproductive to use driving laws to fulfill another policy agenda, and it is bad policy to promote laws and then try to find the facts to support them.

[Thanks, Tom]

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11 comments to NIDA discusses drugged driving

  • ray

    This makes me ill…

  • claygooding

    Why don’t they just go ahead and piss test America and throw us all in jail,fucking stupid assholes.

  • if they really gave a shit about deaths on the highway, they’d lower the speed limit on all roads to 35mph — the speed at which they conduct crash tests.

    our best defense against this nonsense remains the comparison of highway mayhem versus drug use data, and the intelligence to understand that we do not need to create a new law for every possible substance that “may impact your ability to operate a motor vehicle.”

    instead, we can more effectively and efficiently use an existing law (you must maintain control of your vehicle), and utilize the video cameras in every cop car to ticket and, if required, arrest and prosecute anyone who is not properly maintaining control of their vehicle (and honestly, who really cares why you aren’t doing the job well — what matters is that you aren’t).

    this one rears its ugly head continuously (thanks to dupont and bensinger) and unfortunately has become one of the key facets of the ondcp’s latest ndcs.

    they want to drug test everyone all the time — that’s what “zero” tolerance means.

  • ray

    Last year Kentucky was about to vote on this same thing…a survey indicated a majority support for a drugged driving law…I called Representatives there and reminded the ones that I spoke with that there are -now fourteen states, that are composed of nearly twenty-five percent of America’s population where doctors can recommend marijuana as a medicine…and that many patients will be driving across Kentucky…and that the law they were considering will set in motion a major legal mess for Kentucky. The next day the drugged driving was removed from their considerations….but I’m sure Gil is calculating these things in his current political trickery to under mind medical marijuana and support the prohibitionist war, not to mention to protect his 16 thousand millions dollar budget…what’s a guy to do?

  • Scott

    The NIDA wrote one thing (back in 1995) that interested me:

    “Researchers have long recognized the strong correlation between stress and substance abuse.”

    So where is the “war” on unhealthy stress?

    No where.

    Evidence of this can be found by visiting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website, our government hub for substance abuse.

    Then use your browser’s find feature to search for the word “stress”. It is not on the front page at all, when it should be prominent there.

    Our movement should be focused on the following main strategies when in the public spotlight:

    – Challenge prohibitionists to provide a cost/benefit analysis solidly proving the Controlled Substances Act works at all.

    – Challenge prohibitionists to back up their ‘disaster proclamation’ by proving that any such disaster has occurred after any penalty reduction related to illicit drugs (e.g. Portugal decriminalizing all drugs almost a decade ago).

    – Tell conservatives that the CSA is solely grounded in the New Deal and the corresponding abuse of the Commerce Clause relied on to crush laissez faire economics.

    – Strongly promote the re-legalization of cannabis in California.

    – Strongly promote a serious effort to help people better manage stress as a major move to reduce drug abuse.

  • aye Scott… stress and exhaustion, two of most worrisome and problematic aspects of both driving and workplace safety. These people seriously need to be hung by the balls (if, of course, they have any). And of course we know the science on pot and driving… “increased caution” and “reduced speed” both of which make for safer driving… but hey, who cares, this is WAR!

  • fela

    Someone really needs to make the case that driving under the influence of cannabis is hardly dangerous; at least in comparison to alcohol. There is that one study allan420 mentioned above, but we need more than that. From my experience there is a certain point where you might just be too high to drive, but its rarity. I think a good point could be made to the types who wet their pants over drunk drivers, pointing out the fact that cannabis helps you drive better, not worse.

    But brian is totally correct. A person shouldn’t be prosecuted for why he crashed his Chevy into post-office, but for crashing his Chevy into a post-office.

  • Voletear

    American Sheeple: “Save me Government! Oh! Save me!”

  • @fela… it’s not just one study, it’s every study (4 to 6 different ones if memory serves. Australia, Canada, GB, US…

  • ray

    Can you direct me to alcohol vs marijuana driving studies…I have seen one somewhere that had enlightening graphs also compared to people not using either and cannabis hovered around the same as non drinkeres in various road course test, while alcohol soured nearly off the charts in mishaps.