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.
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:
- Encourage states to adopt per se laws.
- Conduct more research and collect more data on drugged driving.
- Enhance the prevention of drugged driving by educating communities and professionals.
- Develop standards for toxicology laboratories.
- 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 â€” 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 â€” 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.