Washington Post Reporter Bamboozled by Drug Czar

Haven’t we told them enough yet that the Drug Czar is Required by Law to Lie?

Apparently Washington Post staff reporter Ashley Halsey III didn’t get the message. For she he wrote this article titled Feds: Watch out for drivers high on drugs

As you idled at that busy intersection Saturday night, there’s a pretty good chance another driver waiting for the light to change was high on illegal drugs.

About 11 percent of motorists are high on the weekend, and the number creeps up past 16 percent once night falls on Friday and Saturday, according to federal drug czar Gil Kerlikowske and a national roadside survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

You know what would have been interesting? If Ashley Halsey III had actually picked up that roadside survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, she might have read:

The reader is cautioned that drug presence does not necessarily imply impairment. For many drug types, drug presence can be detected long after any impairment that might affect driving has passed. For example, traces of marijuana can be detected in blood samples several weeks after chronic users stop ingestion. Also, whereas the impairment effects for various concentration levels of alcohol is well understood, little evidence is available to link concentrations of other drug types to driver performance.

I wonder if they teach you such things in reporter school. You can ask her him (politely) here.

[Thanks, Tom]

Update: I got a response from Ashley. Not sure what the response means yet — it fails to address the substance of the request for correction and instead focuses on my attributes. I’ve asked for further clarification.

I’ve also asked the NHTSA for reaction to the misrepresentation of their report, and a case file has been assigned to my request.

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22 Responses to Washington Post Reporter Bamboozled by Drug Czar

  1. Chris says:

    “Drugs are the number one cause of accidental death in this country,” said Kerlikowske.

    1. Motor vehicle crashes
    Deaths per year: 43,200

    The question becomes, what drug caused this?

    “Presently 25,000 people are killed each year in alcohol related accidents.”

    Whatever, liar. I never hear of anyone dying in a drug related car crash with a cause other than alcohol. And in the cases that I do, it’s always alcohol plus other drugs. Without the alcohol, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem.

  2. Bruce says:

    Eleven percent ya right. Survey shows 18,000 cars per day on the road out front here, not to mention scooters, bicycles, pedestrians. 2,000 impaired??? lol
    Bumper cars but no bumping going on. Somethings fishy.

    The genuine drunks ARE indeed funny. A lady here recently pulled a hit and run and fled in a big dodge pickup minus one front wheel. A couple miles on the axle…too funny.

  3. kaptinemo says:

    Yes, you do have to wonder what they teach in school, nowadays. The curriculum doesn’t seem to include teaching subjects like ‘Rhetoric’ wherein you learn to take apart a statement and subject it to factual analysis. That tends to cause all manner of propagandists heartburn.

    There’s nothing like having a citizenry armed with anti-BS weapons between their ears and on the lookout for would-be manipulators to give a politician nightmares. Gotta dumb the Great Unwashed down so they don’t upset the corp-rat-ist agenda.

    Sadly, it would appear that those in the Media were no less subject to that process, as witnessed by articles such as this.

    Even worse is, they aid and abet it.

  4. permanentilt says:

    The most malicious part of this article is that it completely downplays the significance of non-illegal drug abusers drinking and driving after holiday parties, especially when mixing with legal prescription drugs. If you understand the issues, the statement does warn of this.

    “Drugs are the number one cause of accidental death in this country,” said Kerlikowske, “Drugs impair perception, judgment, motor skills and memory. These effects can be dangerously magnified when drugs are consumed with alcohol, even in cases where a driver’s blood alcohol level is below legal limits,”

    Aside from the factual inaccuracy, as previously noted, this statement is true if you understand he is particularly talking about PRESCRIPTION drugs. But 90% of the folks who read or hear the word “drugs” without qualification only assume ILLEGAL drugs, not pharma or alcohol. So MOST people are going to hear that and think “Damn druggys on the roads!” Without thinking “I really need to watch my alcohol intake after I take my medications at holiday parties.”

    Then you throw out these facts:
    “The number of fatalities caused by drunk drivers declined by 7 percent last year compared with 2007”
    “Law enforcement is doing its job, but the courts are still letting drunks go regularly.”

    And the layman has even LESS reason to worry about his own drinking and driving.

    So even though it seems this press conference was called to warn average citizens of the dangers of drinking and driving particularly for those on medications, due to ambiguous wording and bad reporting, it turned into a reefer-madness style warning about junkies on the roads.

    Way to completely waste an important public service announcement, score another -1 for the war on drugs.

  5. ph0ed1n says:

    No disrespect, Chris, but alcohol is a drug, scientifically speaking.

    People in our movement need to firmly understand that for at least one very good reason.

    Alcohol prohibition required a federal constitutional amendment, two of them in our Constitution, the latter ending it for reasons that today’s drug prohibition should not even exist.

    There is no such amendment for drug prohibition.

    “To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes” – U.S. Constitution (commerce clause)

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled as recently as 2005 (Gonzales v. Raich – http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/search/display.html?terms=Gonzales%20v.%20Raich&url=/supct/html/03-1454.ZO.html) that those 16 words authorize a ban on the free growth, free distribution, and free possession of marijuana (intrastate or not).

    The legal path that the commerce clause has taken over the many decades has spiraled way out of control, giving the federal government enormous power that a sane person knows our Founding Fathers never intended them to have.

    According to the Supreme Court, today’s judicial interpretation of the commerce clause allows Congress to “regulate anything having a substantial affect on interstate commerce”, as long as it is rational, such rationality an attempt to hide how ridiculous this interpretation is.

    Your thoughts, determining every detail of your buying and selling activities, always rationally has a substantial affect on interstate commerce.

    Today’s interpretation does nothing shy of give the federal government the authority to regulate your thoughts. Don’t believe me? If one uses recreational marijuana, one is having a substantial affect on interstate commerce.

    It would be nice for a generation of Americans to come along and shine a very bright light on this, insisting on restoring sanity when it comes to the commerce clause for the sake of the unalienable-rights-centric society that we’re suppose to have by law (see the unalienable right to liberty that is proclaimed self-evident in the U.S. Declaration of Independence, legally protected by constitutional amendment 9).

    How does growing, distributing, or possessing marijuana, all illegal acts, infringe upon the rights of another person? It doesn’t, and so our “public servants” have no authority to ban it.

    Take all of the above and continuously expose it to self-proclaimed Conservatives, and if it goes national (this thing called the Internet can really help with that), drug prohibition will end, because without Republican support for its continuance, it doesn’t stand a chance.

  6. InsanityRules says:

    So, “Drugs are the number one cause of accidental death in this country”, Gil? Is that true? What a spectacular admission of the abysmal failure of our current drug policy! After 40 years and over a trillion dollars, that’s what we have to show for our efforts and money? Well, that and a prison population and incarceration rates that rival Stalin’s Soviet Union.

    It seems that it would be far more cost effective to hire limos to give drunk and drugged drivers a ride home. Unfortunately, the cops would never support that – not nearly as fun (or profitable) as dragging Americans off in chains and throwing them into cages. Is this a great country, or what???

  7. Duncan says:

    I went to look at the Post’s comments on this article and found none. I could swear I looked a couple of hours ago and saw 6, including 1 by Pete. Perhaps just a glitch…

  8. Pete says:

    It’s a slow-loading page, Duncan, and you have to wait for the entire page to load before it shows the comments. Until that point, it shows it as 0 comments.

  9. bobreaze says:

    hey pete once you have clarified the authors response will you post it or post a summery of your correspondence ?

  10. Chris says:

    “No disrespect, Chris, but alcohol is a drug, scientifically speaking.”

    Didn’t read your post but.. duh? I guess I was unclear in my post then. I understand that alcohol is a drug. But the problem with the ONDCP using the word “drugs” is that most people are not going to -ever- relate the word drugs with alcohol, but with illegal drugs. See permanentilt’s post for what I meant basically.

  11. just me says:

    Reporters just dont seem to be able to think for them selves these days. All this cut and paste crap, and , accepting things at face value. No critical thinking? Hummm, sit and smoke one…it’ll help with that.

    “Drugs are the number one cause of accidental death in this country”

    Well what happened to the drug war? I thought all these billions of wasted dollars were supposed to stop this kind of thing….? oh ya…thats why we call it ..WASTED TAX DOLLARS !

    Some peoles learning curve is slower…some…well 🙂

  12. jayrollinhippy says:

    The drugged driver issue is the last stand of the prohibs. It is only the last straw that they can cling to. Untill the general public comprehends that his is A moot point they will b ring out this old saw to justify their postion

  13. Brian says:

    Ashley Halsey is a he, not a she, and he’s experienced enough to know better than to get taken like this. And what happened to the Post’s factcheckers? Have they all been laid off?

  14. cabdriver says:

    It’s political.

    Halsey didn’t want to be accused of being “prodrug” by challenging the Drug Czar’s agitprop, or by introducing any amount of skepticism into the article.

    Par for the course as far as how the Washington Post treats the pronouncements of Official Washington, no matter what the story.

    Driving while impaired is almost totally about The Drunks.

    Prescription meds are in second place- a distant second, at that. Opiates, tranqs…(plus alcohol, usually.)

    You can figure that much out just by checking out court records.

    I’ve talked to cops, CHP, and lawyers about this topic, over the years.

    As for pot- I’ve had a total of one story related to me about someone charged with a DUI cannabis, here in California. Following a police stop- the driver had been caught making an illegal U-turn, while burning a joint behind the wheel.

    Stupid. You do something like that, and what do you expect?

  15. ph0ed1n says:


    My bad and I apologize. Perhaps it was my lack of another drug known as caffeine.

    Anyways, though a bit off-topic I confess, you should reconsider reading my comment above. I think, despite the lack of caffeine, that it’s fairly duh-free and represents an underutilized facet in our movement, the ridiculous connection of the CSA to our Constitution, and the need to make that publicly clear to gain the support of the many misinformed Conservatives.

    By any rational interpretation of our Constitution, the CSA is not law.

  16. cabdriver says:

    I’ve heard the suggestion made that if a US President really wanted to do something to challenge Drug Prohibition on their own, they could find a way to direct the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the Federal drug statutes.

    You never know…consider what happened to the criminal statutes against private consensual sexual conduct, not too long ago. The Supreme Court overturned them. And that was a Court with a makeup generally regarded as leaning conservative, at that.

    The anti-possession criminalization laws are certainly much more punitive than any provision of the Volstead Act/18th Amendment.

    In fact, I’ve been reviewing some histories of the era of Alcohol Prohibition, and it was fairly loaded with loopholes. Home wine making was permitted “for sacramental purposes” associated with churches and synagogues, for instance.

    The way I read the regs, the status of distilled alcohol was the equivalent of what would now fall somewhere between DEA Schedule 2 and Schedule 4. Large amounts of distilled spirits were authorized “for medicinal purposes.”

    And personal possession of alcohol was always decriminalized, although the cops would often confiscate a personal stash. On occasion, they busted people for personal possession- but they were going beyond what the law authorized.

    Almost no one went to jail just for carrying a flask of whiskey in those days. If they did, it was due to overzealous enforcement.

    In fact, compared to the multiple array of persecutions faced by “illegal drug users” nowadays, it’s almost difficult to figure out what all the commotion was about, in retrospect.

    Prohibition, as unworkable and disrespected as it was, was quite mild in comparison to the present-day laws against marijuana- much less other illegalized substances.

    Ironically enough- if personal possession of marijuana were to be decriminalized; personal cultivation of non-commercial amounts were allowed; and if cannabis were to be permitted as a legitimate medication- that would just about bring it to the status of alcohol, during the Prohibition Era.

  17. cabdriver says:

    oops…I just reviewed what ph0ed 1n brought up, about the what the Supreme Court said in the Raich decision.

    So much for “Constitutional review.”

    In terms of logical process, that’s one serious Procrustean Bed, manipulating the Commerce Clause like that.

    I’m aghast, really.

  18. americanoutback says:

    Maybe they can take the money they make on taxation combine it with the money theyd save from their incarceration/enforcement and invest it in some decent public transport so those self righteous boozers don’t have to share their late night roads with those bad ol “dopers”

  19. aussidawg says:

    I had actually read an article some time back that backed the claim that drug are the number one cause of accidental death in America. However, that claim had nothing to do with illegal drugs and the article specifically stated this detail. The reason that drugs account for so many accidental deaths has to do with side effects of FDA approved prescription drugs such as allergic reactions, interaction with other drugs or foods, or other unanticipated/unknown side effects and the article itself was a condemnation of the FDA and big pharma, not illegal drugs or intentional abuse of legal prescription drugs.

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  21. skeptic says:

    Drugs are the #1 cause of accidental death in the U.S.??
    Really? I could have swore I read that medical malpractice was the number one cause of accidental death in the U.S. Are they lumping in improper dosages and reactions to pharmaceutical drugs in this stat to arrive at this conclusion? It all sounds so ominous. Considering HEART DISEASE is the #1 killer, cigarettes and Big Macs should be high on the Czar’s radar. Where’ the report on that, Gil??

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