February 12, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) New federal data reveals what many marijuana enthusiasts already know: it is safer to drive stoned than drunk. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, after adjusting for race, gender, and other demographics, drivers who were under the influence of marijuana were no more likely to end up in car accidents than sober people.
In contrast, the authors noted
“that at low levels of alcohol (e.g., 0.03 BrAC) the risk of crashing is increased by 20 per- cent, at moderate alcohol levels (0.05 BrAC) risk increases to double that of sober drivers, and at a higher level (0.10 BrAC) the risk increases to five and a half times.”
Previous research suggests that obviously, driving while really stoned is still unsafe, but on the whole, marijuana users are highly unlikely to wreak more havoc on the road than drunk drivers.
Nevertheless, the claims of prohibitionists like Dianne Feinstein, for example, are pervasive. She has claimed that
“The risk of people using marijuana and driving is very substantial.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the federal government still insists that marijuana is a harmful, Schedule 1 drug with no beneficial effects.
The results of this study call into question not just these designations, but the practices of many states. State governments (like in Colorado) have moved toward implementing field tests to identify drivers under the influence of marijuana. Doing so is difficult, however, because levels of THC in the body do not necessarily correlate to psychological impairment (as heavy marijuana users retain THC in their bodies without being high).
Aside from the inaccuracies and warrantless violations of such tests, it is now clear that they are a waste of money. If stoned drivers are statistically equivalent to sober ones, what justification could the government possibly have to spend tax payer dollars on marijuana witch hunts? The new data renders typical “for your safety” argument fallacious.
Further, the NHTSA study found that driving on marijuana was found to be safer than not just alcohol, but painkillers and sedatives.
This highlights a now tired but disturbing reality: the drugs the government classifies as highly dangerous are far less harmful than those it deems legal and in many cases, promotes through the FDA. Painkillers killed 16,007 in 2012
—more than double what heroin killed (the recent rise in heroin use is attributed by the CDC to painkiller addicts seeking their high illicitly when doctors stop prescribing it to them). Alcohol shatters both of those numbers with links to 88,000 deaths per year. Marijuana is still at zero (one 2014 study claims otherwise, but acknowledged the two people who died had other health complications).
This disparity in legal vs. illegal drugs mirrors the federal government’s general attitude toward helpful and harmful treatments for the body. It has decided raw milk is dangerous but pesticides that cause cancer, nerve damage, and birth defects are perfectly safe to ingest. In doing so, it has laid a tortorous claim to the private property that is each human’s body and taken liberties to weaken and poison them.
New research continually shows the benefits of marijuana and renders the government’s stance on it archaic and laughable. Luckily, the tide of public opinion is shifting, catalyzed by findings like the NHTSA’s.
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