Press continues to pretend the Drug Czar has something important to say

The drug czar is once again pushing his ridiculous drugged driving crusade with more meaningless data, and while the press isn’t completely rolling over dead, they’re comatose and the fact that they even print this stupidity is an insult to journalism.

Let’s take a look at CNN. In an article posted by CNN Medical Senior Producer David Martin, we have:

The meaningless data

A first-ever drug analysis of drivers killed in car crashes found one in three tested positive for drugs in 2009, the Office of National Drug Control Policy reported Tuesday. […]

The presence of all types of drugs in fatal crashes has increased 5 percent in the past five years, according to 2005-2009 data, compiled and analyzed for the first time by NHTSA. Of the 12,055 drivers tested in 2009, 3,952 tested positive for drugs.

The meaningless hype

Gil Kerlikowske, director of the National Drug Control Policy, said the percentage was alarming and should serve as a wakeup call.

“We have not paid very much attention to the drugged driving issue,” Kerlikowske, President Obama’s so-called drug czar, told CNN. “It is a significant problem.”

The meaningless quote from a clueless “expert”

David W. Kaufman, associate director at the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University, said the results were not inconsistent with surveys he and his colleagues have conducted.

“There’s no question that people are taking a lot of drugs, and some of these drugs might affect their ability to operate motor vehicles,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say there’s more to worry about than people drinking too much.”

The partial disclaimer buried deep in the story so CNN can pretend that they’re responsible journalists

The Office of National Drug Control Policy figures released Tuesday do not suggest drug use was responsible for the fatal accident, nor do they implicate the driver who died. The report also doesn’t determine whether the increase might be the result of Americans taking more medications, generally.

The AP has more. They note that the researchers at NHTSA tried to downplay the hype, and yet they added a category of their own to the story:

The meaningless and irrelevant anecdote

In July 2009, a New York mother sped the wrong way for more than a mile with a minivan full of children, leading to a crash that killed her and seven others. The woman had a blood-alcohol level 2 1/2 times the legal limit and had smoked marijuana within an hour of the crash.

In Phoenix, the driver of a dump truck struck a group of motorcycle riders in March, killing four people and injuring five others. Initial tests found the driver had methamphetamine in his system.

That’s right. Out of the entire two stories they came up with to show that drugged driving (supposedly separate from drunk driving) is a problem, one of them involved someone with a blood-alcohol level 2.5 times the legal limit.

OK, now let’s take a look at this story as if we were, oh, real journalists with integrity.

  1. Has there been an increase or decrease in overall traffic fatalities nationally? Story doesn’t say. Drug Czar doesn’t say. Shouldn’t this be the first question asked? If there’s an increase in drugs showing up in fatalities, how is it an issue if there’s no corresponding increase in traffic fatalities? For all we know, an overall increase in drug use could be reducing fatalities.
  2. What is the rate of drugs present in the non-fatality drivers? Without that as comparison, there’s nothing to indicate… anything. What if it turns out that drug presence is less prevalent in fatalities than non-fatalities?
  3. “Researchers said the numbers could be higher because only about 3 in 5 drivers who were killed in car crashes were tested for drugs after the crash and testing varied from state to state.” Hmmm… The numbers could also be lower because only 3 in 5 drivers were tested for drugs after the crash. In fact, wouldn’t it be even more likely that drivers were tested for drugs in cases where drugs were believed to be involved? That might actually skew the results.
  4. What about the change in drug usage in the general population? I just visited my Dad. He’s the safest driver I know, and yet he takes about 16 pills every day as part of what his doctor prescribes for various issues related to getting older. Not all prescription drugs cause impairment, and our population is aging. Old cautious drivers with drugs in their systems may be safer than young inexperienced sober drivers trying to impress a date.
  5. What about relevance of the data?
    1. We know nothing about whether the crashes were caused by drugs.
    2. We know nothing about whether the drugs involved cause impairment.
    3. We know nothing about whether the drugs were merely in the system (as marijuana remains for days) or whether they were “active.”

So, what do we have, here?

Absolutely nothing.

Interesting research, sure. But absolutely nothing of validity regarding the connection between drugs and driving fatalities.

If Kerlikowske shows up at a press conference in DC with nonsense like this, you don’t print it and then say “well, we really don’t know for sure.” The responsible thing to do is laugh in his face, tell him to come back when he has some science to share, and then turn around and walk out. Especially if you’re CNN Medical Senior Producer David Martin.

What I wish is that they’d start testing for the stomach contents of drivers in fatal crashes, so I could look at the data and then put out this press release:

A first-ever stomach analysis of drivers killed in car crashes found one in three tested positive for beans in 2010.

Pete Guither, Executive Director of the Prohibition Isn’t Free Foundation, said the percentage was alarming and should serve as a wakeup call.

“We have not paid very much attention to the driving while under the influence of beans issue,” he told CNN. “It is a significant problem.”

David W. Doofus, associate director at CEMQ (Center for Expert Media Quotes), said the results were not inconsistent with surveys he and his colleagues have conducted.

“There’s no question that people are eating a lot of beans, and some of these beans might affect the environmental integrity of automotive atmospheric systems, thereby distracting the driver in potentially dangerous ways.” he said. “I think it’s fair to say there’s more to worry about than people drinking too much.”

Guither noted that a recent incident had involved a truck driver crashing because of pork rinds. “Imagine if it had been beans,” Guither intoned ominously. “Children might be dead.”

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23 Responses to Press continues to pretend the Drug Czar has something important to say

  1. strayan says: (page 261)

    I’m curious, has paint or glue sniffing emerged has a threat to road safety? They’re drugs too, right?

    • Pete says:

      Actually, strayan, that was the one thing they did define somewhat (although it varied from area to area). Illegal drugs and prescription drugs (not alcohol, aspirin, tobacco, etc.). The research wasn’t the problem. It was the interpretation of it that was bogus.

  2. strayan says:

    Caffeine intoxication is a recognized clinical syndrome. It can even induce psychosis at high doses.

    Maybe he’s referring to 1 in 3 drivers testing positive for caffeine.


    Reissig, C.J., Strain, E.C., Griffiths, R.R. (2009). Caffeinated energy drinks–a growing problem. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 99(1-3), 1-10.

    Broderick, P. & Benjamin, A.B. (2004). Caffeine and psychiatric symptoms: a review. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, 97(12), 538-542.

    Natale, F., Cirillo, C., Di Marco, G.M., di Vetta L.S., Aronne, L., Siciliano, A., Mocerino, R., Tedesco, M.A., Golino, P. & Calabrò, R. (2009). When chewing gum is more than just a bad habit. Lancet, 373, 1918.

    Hedges, D.W., Woon, F.L. & Hoopes S.P. (2009). Caffeine-induced psychosis. CNS Spectrums, 14(3),127-129.

  3. Harry says:

    The sad thing about all this misinformation is that ignorant Americans will believe it all without question when they hear their beloved authoritarian politicians and state controlled media stars repeat it over and over. Then they will gladly relinquish what’s left of their liberties and rights and freely hand over the conduct of their lives to the police state, believing that they and their children will henceforth be protected from the evil cannabis menace. How can this blind ignorant trust in government that most Americans subscribe to be remedied?

  4. Cobb says:

    Just in case someone still does not know about this, here you go: dont worry, if you don’t trust the website, just google it.

  5. kant says:

    The other thing not mention is how does this relate to our over all driving population?

    I should note that the total US population has grown by about 10% over the last 10 years. So is this increase in fatal accidents actually an increase? Or is it just a result of more people being out on the roads?

  6. Paul says:

    You really hate drug czars, don’t you, Pete?

    I can certainly understand. Personally, I detest prosecutors. I’ve only seen a few I thought were decent human beings (there’s one in Texas right now working hard to free innocent prisoners), but the rest seem to be all monsters. And don’t get me started on attorneys general!

    The problem we have, of course, is the relatively benign neglect we are receiving from the Obama administration will probably get a lot worse in a future Republican admin. Not that we should let the Obama admin off the hook when they disseminate lies, but just that we may look back on these days with fondness in the not too distant future.

    Just my cheery thought of the day 🙂

  7. DdC says:

    Ban Fossil Fools for the Sake of the Children huffing it!

    The total disregard for reality leaves the witch hunting cross burning moneysluts killing kids for the safety of the oil companies… Ban the mild and leave the e-z poisons. A kid smoking a joint will wake up to continue life. The parent neglecting the child, for whatever reason regardless of social acceptability. Is why they die. From legal , illicit or non-drug solvents, make absolutely no difference. They will not wake up and continue life.

    Because of DEAth Merchants and Drug Warriors profit policy saveding the war at any cost. The dead kids are collateral damage reincarnated into statistics justifying the past and authorizing DEAth Czars to kill more kids year after year. Kids huffing the dope the government gives them over the counter, die. While the non toxic doobie is a schedule#1 narcotic with draconian 90 year sentences in some penile colonies given statehood. A clear message to the kids… No one ever died huffing smells of french fries to my knowledge.

    * How to Know if Your Kids Are Huffing

    Huffing, bagging, or sniffing is the inhalation of chemical vapors for a quick high. An estimated two million kids aged 12-17 are doing it. But first experiences can be as early as 6 – 8.

    * Why Would My Kid Try Huffing?

    Why not? Their friends tell them it’s a good idea and if you haven’t specifically addressed furniture polish as a dangerous substance, how are they to know? Few of us haven’t sniffed the tip of a Sharpie in jest. But it’s not funny. This is a trend that probably won’t go away too soon. Talk to your kids – even the little ones.

    If you want to be disturbed, or if you want to scare your child, just search U-Tube for kids huffing. There are plenty of messed up kids out there eager for you to get a good look at the effects of huffing.

    * A police officer’s child dies from inhalants.

    * What Are the Effects of Huffing?

    * Sniffing or Huffing Gasoline Vapors
    This behavior is almost as old as the use of gasoline is in mainstream culture. Gasoline vapors, when inhaled, can trigger an intense hallucinogenic state.

    * Medical Marihuana in a Time of Prohibition by Lester Grinspoon, M.D.
    International Journal of Drug Policy, April, 1999.

    “among the safest therapeutic substances known to man.” If it were now in the official pharmacopeia, it would be a serious contender for the title of least toxic substance in that compendium. In its long history, marihuana has never caused a single overdose death.”
    ~ DEA Administrative Judge Francis L. Young

    * Pollution: Petrol vs Hemp

    * Biodiesel is nontoxic.

    * Ford And Deisel Never Intended Cars To Use Gasoline

    * Hemp car was an alternative-fuel project car that utilized hemp biodiesel for fuel. Industrial hemp would be an economical fuel if hemp were legal to cultivate in the United States. The car departed from Washington D.C. on July 4, 2001 and returned home on October 2, 2001.

    Mar. 11, 1999
    * New Technology Turns French Fry Oil Into Diesel Fuel
    The process of converting vegetable oils or animal fats to diesel fuel is nothing new. Biodiesel fuel has been produced and tested for years as an alternative to petroleum based diesel fuel, or “petrodiesel.”

  8. claygooding says:

    It reminds me of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” except we are forced to listen to the false warnings by the government’s and industrialists lackeys,the press. expect the press to ignore Kerli’s ramblings of skewed meaningless dribble is a little naive because they are the tools the government and big business use to maintain their influence and control over America…..

    • Pete says:

      Claygooding – I never said that I expect the press to ignore Kerli’s ramblings — just that they would if they had any integrity.

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  10. John says:

    HHHmmm, It seems as if 3 of 3 cars were involved in fatal AND non-fatal incidents. Time to ban the autos methinks.

  11. Matthew Meyer says:

    Nice one Pete. Yeah, the USA Today version of the article didn’t even include the institute’s disclaimer. I think your average reader would conclude from the article that there are a lot of high drivers dying. Just as intended, I guess.

  12. warren says:

    Very easy to know the idiots and dummys. It would be anyone that believes what this part of the government says. This is sad because there are a lot of people that believe them.

  13. darkcycle says:

    Pete, you could keep yourself busy, 24/7 with Quality of information challenges. …..with no resultant increase at all in the quality of their lies.

  14. Cannabis says:

    Kevin Sabet comes up with a policy that he wants to push, for whatever reasons he has. He writes a dissembling piece for Gil Kerlikowske to take talking points from. Press eats it up without question. Drug policy machine continues to rake in cash for their industry. Rinse, repeat.

  15. DdC says:

    “Our problems stem
    from our acceptance of
    this filthy, rotten system.”

    ~ Dorothy Day

    I detest Prosecutors (Persecutors) too. They are scurrying up the ladder rungs in a rat race to D.A. (duh) The Police have become their lackey servants in a quest to bust people and then employ lawyers to lie in legalese. Judges apply 404 gag rules to keep the jury from confusion. Mandatory sentencing as a trial by one’s peers deterrent, and vengeance on the insolent daring to question their accusers. Please bargain pisstasting re-habilitation. If habilitation doesn’t work the first time. Its the prime time special for most of the self convicted.

    The system is rigged. The money has corrupted every facet and it must be removed to ever consider Justice. Corporate Politico’s control every Science and Citizen Protection budget string, and that is the red flag we’re neglecting. Trust, but Verify and Checks and Balance are essential for any transaction with humans. Especially politician artists of ConPromise. Health and Happiness is the American dream and there ain’t no reason we can’t have it. Except we are too selfish in the name of Capitalism. Stepping over the homeless deterrent to whistle blowing on our way to Starphucks. For some fancy java that could feed a family of 4. Into the SUV donating to the OPEC fund for wayward wealthy Osama ben Laundromats.

    Hermetically sealed boxes eliminating the street sounds of the thugs billy clubs cracking pot heads. Narkswats kicking down 92 year old granny’s doors, then shooting her. As well as other mothers holding babies at home or in Missionary planes. Young women suckered into please bargaining cage time for snitching. Rainbow Farm Massacre forfeiture for the Sheriff’s retirement ranch. Give us this day our daily harassment in spite of the state laws and feelings of voters. 93 years for failing flushing 101. Life for ditchweed. Making up 98% or the pot confiscations. Raising statistics so Drug Czars can get more tax bucks to waste on the Ganjawar profiteers.

    Buying cotton using 90 million pounds of prohibitionist poisons. Wearing polyester or using any plastic from crude oil contributes to sick kids. Not with veggie oil or organic Hemp clothing. Eating cows sucking down 12 pounds of chemicalized fresh water drinking grain for each pound of Mickey D. Starving babies and illegal food. Hemp Seed Omega 3, THE MOST NUTRITIONALLY COMPLETE FOOD SOURCE IN THE WORLD, outlawed for family farms. Factory farms spewing liquid shit till it saturates the drinking fountains. Run off from Tom Delay pesticides aborting babies in the bible belt, not used on Ganja/Hemp.

    While impoverished trailer park teabog ditzo’s cheerlead like “W” for the Dick Armey of prohibitionists stealing us blind. Tuning in, bending over and sucking up to the Fauxnews Warlords. No tax $’s for schools, jobs, roads or health care but plenty to wage Ganjawars and reap the bucks of selling band aids to barefoot joggers on broken glass paths.

    Home grown frickin medicine, what would be more inexpensive at the drug store for fixed income citizens? Home grown recreation or relaxation, sleep aid without the narcotic hangovers. Less hazardous than booze, yet these Neocon jagoff fuck heads keep the media broadcasting sound bites of non-sense and gossip. Those who give up Liberty for Safety deserve neither. One of them forefathers said that. Those who spread fear to sell safety deserve nothing. Me.

    Tax shelters and breaks for the wealthiest to trickle down voodoo exxonomics, producing jobs for Wallmart St in China. While cutting unemployment benefits for millions of American workers. Destined to feed the families someway, without connections, getting desperate. Fear driving predictable conclusions. Another feeding the scab labor pool of the Prison Industrial Complex. I suggest everyone laid off, with GOP killing unemployment, out sourced to sweatshops or replaced by indentured servants of the state. Grow Pot!

    Benign neglectis another way of maintaining dysfunction for power and profit. To those brokers selling wars, it isn’t a wasted trillion dollars.

    Obama admin off the hook? What Obombo admin? Its the same Neocon job as Klintoon. GOP playing the part of Simon La’Gree holding safety nets hostage, while the good guys drink beer and play cards with the train conductor until intermission, when they all put on aprons and sell popcorn to the patient constituents.

  16. Servetus says:

    The impaired driver ploy is an alleged solution looking for a problem.

    The actual problem is the prohibitionists can’t find driver fatalities related to anything more general than alcohol and soporifics, or extreme variations thereof. Demon rum is passé. Cannabis won’t cooperate to be the demon it’s supposed to be. And porn just won’t fit at all, or maybe it does for them.

    The prohibs are suffering from demon deprivation.

    If the prohibs can’t find someone soon to punish for the natural misfortunes that plague their lives, they will turn on each other. It could get ugly.

  17. Bruce says:

    Yank Sucktit Canada spewing the same drivel. Tonights news a full five minute pompous booming female authoritarian fanfare on the evil drugged drivers.
    Maybe Obama was not far off the mark with his 57 states remark. Take away Yukon Quebec NWT…..57

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  19. Duncan20903 says:

    What kills me is that they are claiming success, and then claiming that 1 in 3 drivers is addled by MADs.

    I still can’t over the collision in PA which killed one driver and got the other arrested for possession of cannabis and paraphernalia, and charged and convicted of DUI-merryjewanna. (PA is a ‘zero tolerance’ State)

    I really am sorry I lost the link to this story.

    Butt wow, it is proof positive that cannabis causes mayhem and carnage on the road. The pothead caused the accident by stopping at a controlled intersection and waiting patiently for the stop sign to turn green. This resulted in his being rear ended by a drunk who blew more than twice the legal limit. In the aftermath of this drug induced carnage the drunk passed away. Thousands and thousands attended his memorial service and swore that they would rid the roads of dangerous potheads.

    (standard disclaimer, the last sentence above is a joke and is not intended to be taken seriously. I’m not kidding about the pothead having been stopped for an excessive amount of time at a stop sign.)

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