The science has long been clear. Marijuana can cause impairment and driving while impaired by anything (lack of sleep, alcohol, texting, being angry) is not a good idea. However, the impairment caused my marijuana is only a fraction of the impairment caused by alcohol, and, while alcohol releases inhibitions and can make drivers more reckless, those who are stoned are more likely to be aware of their limitations and exercise additional caution. Treating the issue of marijuana impairment in driving as the same kind of problem as alcohol impairment is a disservice to safety on the highways. All this we know.
That doesn’t prevent people from still trying to pretend that legalization is going to cause a cataclysm on the highways.
So here’s yet another study that shows, once again, that marijuana isn’t the stuff of disaster films. The Real but Exaggerated Danger of Stoned Driving by Jacob Sullum.
But according to an analysis that’s about to be published by the journal Addiction, the increase in crash risk associated with marijuana use is roughly 20 percent to 30 percent, as opposed to the widely cited estimate of 92 percent.
That doesn’t stop lawmakers from going crazy.
Politicians are in such a panic about stoned driving that they are willing to endorse legislation they concede has no scientific basisâ€”legislation that is bound to result in the conviction of innocent drivers who pose no threat to the public. Advocates of that policy simply assume that requiring proof of actual impairment, as Massachusetts currently does, is too demanding in the face of the increase in cannabis consumption they anticipate as a result of legalization. This response is unfair, premature, and disproportionate given what we actually know about marijuana’s impact on traffic safety.
And, of course, science doesn’t stop the absurd reefer madness theatre that constantly shows up.
Being simultaneously high on pot, cocaine, heroin, MDMA and LSD is never a good combination, but the Ford Motor Company wants you to know that itâ€™s particularly bad if you plan to get behind the wheel.
Thatâ€™s the idea behind the automakerâ€™s new â€œdrugged driving suit,â€ an elaborate collection of weights, bandages, goggles and noisemakers that claims to simulate the physical effects of taking a variety of drugs. […]
But why show teen drivers the effects of so many different drugs at once instead of making a suit that focuses on one popular drug like marijuana or MDMA?
Drennan-Scace explained that it was all about logistics.
â€œIf weâ€™re showing just one drug, we would need to make a suit for every different type of drug,â€ he said.
â€œThe research team decided it would be better to show (new drivers) the effects of different types of drugs in one suit, to get a feel for what itâ€™s like.â€
And once again, we see bad use of science used to justify that alcohol impairment is the same as other drug impairment.
â€œIt shows them that getting behind the wheel, whether youâ€™re drunk or youâ€™re drugged, is a terrible idea,â€ said Ford of Canada spokesman Matt Drennan-Scace.
â€œHere in Canada in 2010, research showed that in 34 per cent of all accidents drugs were part of that accident. Thirty-nine per cent were alcohol, so itâ€™s not that far off.â€
Ah, that scientific term “part of.” Yeah, good stuff there, Matt.