Why bother with science when you have theatrics and assumptions?

This fairly bizarre bit of propaganda has been unveiled in New Zealand: Drugged drivers next on safety hit list

In the war against drugged drivers an advertising campaign reveals the reactions of secretly filmed New Zealanders when they are told the driver of the car they are in is high on drugs.

The new road safety campaign hits television screens this weekend with the unscripted responses of people who thought they were being driven to a costume fitting for a commercial.

Instead they were being covertly filmed by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and their drivers were actors pretending to be under the influence of drugs.

I know actors who could scare the crap out of passengers by pretending to be Justin Bieber or an armadillo while driving. What does that mean?

It sounds like a good Candid Camera bit, but what does it really have to do with safety on the highways?

But I’m sure that, obviously with this big effort, New Zealand at least has strong scientific data showing that drugged driving is a serious problem. Right?


NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said less was known about the extent of drugged driving in New Zealand compared with research on drink-driving, but evidence suggested drugs could be a bigger factor in crashes than officially reported.

“We know that driving under the influence of drugs is common and widespread, yet our research shows that only one in 10 New Zealanders see it as a problem,” he said.

So they really don’t have much evidence, but they’re sure it must be true, and apparently somehow the fact that New Zealanders don’t see it as a problem means that it’s a problem. There’s logic and science for you.

Not that the U.S. has been any better.

Our National Drug Control Strategy includes these goals (in order)

  • Encouraging states to adopt Per Se drug impairment laws
  • Collecting further data on drugged driving

Yep. Pass the laws and then look for proof of the problem.

Sabet and Kerlikowse had absolutely no interest in science when they perverted NHTSA data to imply something it didn’t.

Now it’s possible that there may be some real science in the future to determine an actual level of THC that results in actual impairment. The best study I know of in that area is being conducted by Dr. Jeff Brubacher with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He describes it thusly:

…we analyze police reports to determine who should have been able to avoid the crash (culpable) and who had no chance of avoiding the crash (non-culpable). This is done using strict guidelines and without knowing the driver’s toxicology results. We then compare THC positive rates between culpable and non-culpable drivers. If the culpable drivers are more likely to be THC positive, then there is an association between THC and crash causation.

We are also looking at how the culpability rate varies with THC level. Heavy cannabis users have trivially elevated blood THC levels (< 2 ng/mL) for a week or more after last use. There isn’t any evidence that these low levels contribute to crashes. We will also be measuring THC metabolites (COOH-THC) – combined with THC. This can be used to roughly estimate the time from last use till time of crash.

Now that, to me, sounds like real science in determining if, and to what degree, cannabis impairment can be directly connected to safety.

Why isn’t the United States doing that instead of just measuring what’s in the blood of random drivers? Because they aren’t really interested in science or learning the truth. They just want ammunition.

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50 Responses to Why bother with science when you have theatrics and assumptions?

  1. Francis says:

    In the war against drugged drivers an advertising campaign reveals the reactions of secretly filmed New Zealanders when they are told [falsely] the driver of the car they are in is high on drugs.

    Drugs warriors deliberately lying to (and terrifying!) people in the name of some supposed greater good? Gosh, that’s not like them at all.

  2. claygooding says:

    I wonder where they came up with that idea?

  3. darkcycle says:

    What is it about down-under? The N.Z. and Aussie prohibitionists are the MADDEST reefer mad loonies in the entire world.
    This campaign is right up there among the most bizarre things I have ever heard. Can’t people sue for emotional distress down there??? In-fucking-credible.

    • stayan says:

      I was just googling around to re-read some of the old comments I’d made about DUIC and discovered that one of my original comments (on this very site) was used in a White Paper presented to the Colorado State Senate (in relation to HB 1261; whatever the heck that was).

      Not bad for a mad Australian! One of you punks better roll me one the next time I’m in the US!

  4. kant says:

    I realise that they said thc in combination with thc-cooh but I was under the impression that thc-cooh levels was a really poor measurement of time since the last consumption.

    Simply put; a person who is a heavy user could easily have a higher concentration built up in their system then someone who is a non/irregular smoker but may have more recently consumed. Likewise someone with a higher metabolism will flush thc-cooh from their system faster than someone with a slower metabilism; consequently registering higher then lower than the person with a slower metabilism, even if they smoke at about the same time.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      kant, it’s ratio of active THC to THC-cooh in the blood. As the body metabolizes THC into THC-cooh the ratio of active THC:THC-cooh diminishes. Once the THC-cooh has been stored in the fatty tissue blood levels are minimized. There’s a huge difference between metabolite levels in the blood and levels in a person’s urine and feces.

      Also notice that the qualifier “roughly” was used by the man quoted. “This can be used to roughly estimate the time from last use till time of crash.” It’s going to give them a range of time, not a specific time. It s good science though.

  5. stayan says:

    Feel free to drop by the Kiwi’s facebook page and say high:


    Sorry about the pun.

  6. Bruce says:

    D.A.M.M. Representatives deep discussions regarding the worried angst filled folks from W.A.D.D. and M.A.D.D. had to be postponed due to the inability of the Moderator to quiet the cackling laughter and formalize an agenda. A consensus was reached; another meeting next week. $149.00 in the Kitty.

  7. rita says:

    A recent study by university professors in Montana and Colorado showed a decrease in traffic fatalitites in states that have legalized medical mj, which they tentatively attributed to a corresponding drop in beer consumption. Since alcohol, unlike marijuana, actually DOES kill people, you’d think that drop in beer consumption in itself would at least get the attention of right-thinking leaders concerned with saving the children. Which is why the drug warriors are doing their best to ignore it.

  8. claygooding says:

    Good little prohib article,smarter than Sabet,,,no comments.

  9. Matthew Meyer says:

    I think some folks had privacy concerns about the study you laud, Pete. I do think it sounds like pretty good science.

    • claygooding says:

      Science? Science would be simulator testing of subjects with different tolerance levels using and abusing marijuana,not theatrics.

      And they have done that,,no significant impairment from low level marijuana use was found.

      And every police department has an impaired driving test they give daily,,if you can pass their test,the amount of drugs in your system is irrelevant.

      The perception of people’s endangerment because their driver is stoned doesn’t give data for impairment levels.

  10. Dante says:

    “Now that, to me, sounds like real science in determining if, and to what degree, cannabis impairment can be directly connected to safety.”

    Our government ignores science in favor of ideology and cash flow. For a while, I thought Americans would wake up someday and correct this via the ballot box.

    Not so sure any more. It’s like the government can announce “the sun is not hot, in fact it is cold” and those sheep-like citizens will accept it and imprison those who disagree.


  11. Ayuh says:

    “Now it’s possible that there may be some real science in the future to determine an actual level of THC that results in actual impairment.”

    I don’t believe that is possible due to tolerance & individual variation. I can drive perfectly well at a THC level that would leave most non-users barely able to walk.

    • Windy says:

      So can I, my hubby was a truck driver for 48 years, drove over a million miles without ever being at fault for an accident on the job or off, but if we’ve been toking and need to go somewhere, guess who drives — I do. The only accident I ever had that was technically my fault (never got a ticket for it) was when I was in my 20s, in MD on the beltway before I ever smoked my first toke, and I haven’t had any accidents since then (knock on wood).

      • allan says:

        and I drove a truck that had pot leaves painted all over it and I never had an accident or a ticket while driving it… actually, I haven’t had a ticket in 41 years, driving commercially or in my own vehicle.

        [echoing Windy – knocks on wood]

        • Duncan20903 says:

          I’ve never had a cop look at me cross eyed when I’ve been out driving. That’s in 34 1/2 years of being a Cannabinoidian. Why in the world would I think that’s going to happen anytime soon? …or even later?

        • Windy says:

          Duncan, well it appears the WA cops are going to start setting up “moving check points” for the purpose of screening for intoxicated drivers (and other things, of course), you can bet they will include cannabis among those drugs for which they will test should I-502 pass.

          One other thing I do not like about 502, it proposes to have the State sell the cannabis in State operated stores, we WA voters just voted the State owned and operated liquor stores out, they will be replaced by grocery and other stores (of 10,000 sq ft or larger) selling the hard stuff in addition to the beer and wine they’ve always been able to sell (since prohibition ended). This initiative will put the State into the business of selling pot and put all the dispensaries and delivery operations out of business. Bad law, especially when compared to I-505.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          I’ve passed through several check points. Those incidents were included when I said I’ve never had a cop look at me cross eyed. 34 1/2 years, and I spent the 1980s as a professional driver so I’ve logged more miles stoned than most people drive in their flippin’ lifetime.

          Your arguments are absurd Windy. They don’t even test most who pass through so called sobriety checkpoints. If you think they’re going to have a phlebotomist testing everyone who passes through a check point you’re beyond the borders of fantasy land and well into an alternate universe.

          It’s still amazing to me that you’re OK with continuing to arrest thousands and thousands of very real Washingtonians because of some abstract worry that someone, somewhere, somehow might get arrested and not have a defense that almost certainly wouldn’t work in front of a jury is short sighted and ranks right up there with standard prohibitionist “reasoning”. I think that makes you a despicable, pathetic excuse for a human being. Did I hear you volunteer to do a day in jail to prove that it’s no big deal for people to get arrested for petty possession?

  12. Windy says:

    Read this, this morning:
    “Koch companies earned 121 awards in 2011, bringing the total received since January 2009 to 444.

    “These honors recognize the companies’ environmental, safety and community stewardship; as well as innovation and customer service.”

    I commented on that with this:
    “The lefties love to hate on the Kochs, and put them down at every opportunity, wonder how they are spinning this.”

    I’ve seen some of our compatriots, here, hating on them as well. So what do you who have put them down in the past say to this? You do know they favor legalization, do you not?

  13. Cliff says:

    “You do know they favor legalization, do you not?”

    That’s all fine and good, but I would like to see how they treat their prospective employees. If they are on the pee for pay bandwagon, then they are not really for legalization. They just want to cull the herd of prospective American employees easier so they can hire more H-1Bs, because “they can’t find suitable workers”, Just like Bill Gates and Microsoft game the immigration system because they can’t find any software engineers.

    What I see is a potential to arbitrage more jobs to immigrants for less $.

  14. allan says:

    OT… a spot on oped by Gary Johnson in the Daily Caller:

    Ron Paul’s New Hampshire showing tells us something important

    and some good stuff down in TX (including Gov Gary’s participation in a Libertarian Party debate in Grapevine, TX, Feb 25), Gary Johnson slams both Obama and Santorum on gay rights, will appear in Grapevine in Feb.

    and then this from United Liberty on Johnson’s exclusions from the debates, Rick Perry Receiving Treatment from CNN Gary Johnson Could Only Dream About

    Good golly, isn’t it nice to have a bit of rowdiness in an election? I mean w/ the Repubs looking like a pack of clowns doing the piling-in-and-out-of-the-car routine at the circus, I can only watch in wonder. I remain appalled when I hear folks in NH saying it was a tough decision for them choosing between Romney, Perry and Gingrich… yeah, like which is better, a poke with a sharp stick in the eye, ear or ass? Great googlie mooglie people!

  15. claygooding says:

    Major Tea Party Endorsement Coming For Ron Paul

    BuzzFeed reports that Tom Davis, a South Carolina state senator and a major figure in the state’s Tea Party, will officially back Ron Paul in the near future.

  16. Deep Dish says:

    I just found this short video clip from the SPEED channel. It’s called “Driving STONED” and covers the science. Good watch.


  17. Hope says:

    It’s not about truth. It’s not about science.

    It must be about money and keeping as many people locked up or in subservience to and paying money to the government as possible.

    How ungodly. How vile.

    How can they not see how wrong it is?

    Oh yeah. Money. It can do that.

    Money, hatred, and a bit of fear can really make a mess out of things.

    • allan says:

      yah mon… they be the ones called Mammonites. So bad, so bad dem people be… and the leaders are few, but the followers, they’ve created a society of followers.

      They’ve sold a myth, dangled the jewel of the future like a carrot and humanity has by and large bought into pulling the cart all this way to get that carrot. But there is no carrot… the real wealth is ignored. We have a vibrant planet that regenerates life from death on a massive scale and we could have worked within its symbiotic working systems. But nope… like petulant teens, we just knew we knew better. Let’s see how that works out.

      Of course, mother knows best – and we’ll either learn, or we won’t.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      If you’re going to blame it on money then you have to accept it when people blame it on pot. A pile of money sitting on a table will do just that. Sit on the table.

  18. claygooding says:

    No government in the world can compete with the black market in financial compensation for police officers,politicians and border guards,,,ask Mexico.

  19. claygooding says:

    Is Pot Good for Lungs? New Marijuana Study Adds to Health-Effects Debate


    A brand-new study linking marijuana with increased lung capacity has the nation in a tizzy, talking about whether toking actually boosts our respiratory fitness. Few scientific subjects are as controversial and politically volatile as the health effects of cannabis. For every report linking pot with pain reduction, you’ll find three more linking it with schizophrenia, suicidal tendencies, and sinking sperm counts. Here’s a spate of studies showing that this conversation is anything but finished.

    As usual,,the prohib reversed the statistics,,how so ONDCP!

  20. Francis says:

    OT: LA city attorney seeks ‘gentle ban’ on marijuana

    A “gentle” ban? Gee, that doesn’t sound so bad (kind of like “smart enforcement”). And I suppose people that don’t comply with this “gentle ban” will be “gently” arrested by armed agents of the state and “gently” locked in government cages?

  21. claygooding says:

    Nope,,same crew of dog killing specialist they use now,,don’t think the cops will give up their toys.

  22. darkcycle says:


    • Duncan20903 says:

      If you want customer service provided by highly intelligent people shop at an Apple store. It felt like I was on another planet. Make sure to take lots of money.

      • darkcycle says:

        I used Macintost for years, then got an I mac, first version (big, bulbous, took the whole of a desktop), I switched because I couldn’t get decent games. Now all the decent games have been replaced by first person-shooters and car chase games. I really liked age of empires and now its’ not even available for the new stuff (that I can find). So I no longer play games. However, now that all the machines in the house run windows, compatability would be a problem.
        Really, I’m a cro-magnon when it comes to these things. I delayed learning for so long that now I am so far behind the curve, it’ll take the rest of my life to get to where my son will be in three years time.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          I didn’t say the machines were worth a fuck. I said they have great customer service and hire highly intelligent retail help. My power cord failed after about 9 months. A short trip to the Apple Store had me heading home not only with a new power cord, but a new battery because the old one didn’t pass muster when they tested it. But I could have bought 2 1/2 Windows run laptops for the price I paid. From now on I buy Windows and if (when) something fails I’m just going to replace it and remember just how much guarantees actually cost. Even if I have to buy a new machine I’ll still be ahead of the game.

  23. Cliff says:

    Here in Colorado, the legislature is once again trying to institute a “per se” cannabis limit for drugged driving.

    Sen. Steve King R-Grand Junction, has proposed a bill which would make it easier to convict someone with small amounts of cannabis in their blood without proving intoxication. Drivers who test above the limit will have little leeway to challenge in court whether they are impaired. He said, “Quite frankly, I think it’s time we cleared the smoke out of this.” Ha ha, what a compassionate person.

    This is right after a fullisade of anti-dispensary laws went into effect across Colorado as the result of earlier legislation which allows communities to ban dispensaries and a DEA mandate to close all dispensaries within 1000 feet of schools (which targets 23 dispensaries).

    So, a Colorado Constitutional right is being undermined by a bunch of lying, purse lipped, prohibitionists, so what’s new. Get the popcorn, it will be entertaining at least.

  24. darkcycle says:

    Narcs breaking multiple laws in Washington State and getting away with it:

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Hey, did you know that in 1798 the first Governor’s Mansion in Kentucky was located at 420 High Street in Frankfort? I found that out because I really want to own a property with that street address so I’ve been Googling for 420 High. Unfortunately it seems the people that own one never put them up for sale. Of course, who could blame them?

      • allan says:

        We have a High St in Eugene… one of the years we did a GMM here we marched down High St. Even small victories count, if just for the grin factor. I’ll have to see if we have a 420 High, it’d be close to the RR trax, downtown, mixed biz and mixed residential.

      • Pete says:

        Maybe we should have a gathering at the Hawthorne Inn and Conference Center in Winston Salem, NC.

      • Rick Steeb says:

        Natch, Duncan– It IS “The Hemp State” after all…

      • Duncan20903 says:

        High Street is a fairly common street name, at least on the eastern seaboard. It ranks right up there with Broad, Maple, Oak, and just a bit behind Main Street. With the block numbering system dictating that the 400 block being 4 blocks from the center of town very few, if any incorporated cities are lacking a 400 block. If it were a rare address I wouldn’t waste my time searching for one to buy. I wasn’t kidding about that part, I really do want to own a property with that address.

  25. Nunavut Tripper says:

    We have Highway 420 in Niagara Falls Ontario and that’s nothing. In Hamilton we have Sherwood High School on High Street. Yuk

    • Duncan20903 says:

      I thought they renamed Highway 420 a couple of years ago because they were tired of the traffic jams every April 20th?

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