Saturday, June 24, 2017

Legalized narcotics and car accidents

I wasn't surprised to see a report this week that correlated the incidence of vehicle accidents with the legalization of formerly illicit narcotics.

According to the HLDI [Highway Loss Data Institute], past researchers haven't been able to "definitively connect marijuana use with real-world crashes," and even a federal study failed to find such a link. "Studies on the effects of legalizing marijuana for medical use have also been inconclusive," said the HLDI.

Instead, the group focused on three states -- Colorado, where legal marijuana retail sales started in 2014, as well as Oregon and Washington, where sales began in 2015 -- and compared them to the collision claims in neighboring states such as Nevada and Utah, parts of which now allow only medical marijuana. It also factored in statistics regarding the three states where recreational use is now legal from before it became available to the general public.

Colorado saw the largest estimated increase in claim frequency -- 14 percent more than its bordering states, while Washington state was 6 percent greater and Oregon had a 4 percent increase. Allowing for the total control group, "the combined effect for the three states was a smaller, but still significant at 3 percent," said HLDI Vice President Matt Moore.

There's more at the link.

So much for those who claim that the use of such narcotics is a 'victimless crime', affecting no-one but the consumer of the drugs.  Not so much.  We all pay for this in higher insurance premiums, and some of us pay in terms of injuries, pain and suffering, too - if not death, either our own or that of a loved one, killed by a hopped-up driver.

I know some will claim that the situation is no different with legalized narcotics than it is with alcohol.  Both cause the same problem.  Nevertheless, why add to the existing problem by legalizing new ways to become intoxicated?  That doesn't make much sense to me . . .



Rich P said...

Speaking as a resident of Colorado and user of some intoxicants, an element of the discussion could be to ask, "how many intoxicants do we really need?" Well, none, really. How many would we like? This is where the theoretical discussion of liberty bumps into reality, experience, and the nature of human nature. The only answer is that there is no perfect answer.

selkiemaine said...

I think there are several strong arguments for legalization.

Every policy change will have negative as well as positive consequences. Compare the increase in traffic accidents to the harm caused by the illegal status of cannabis. Which is greater? I would argue that the problems caused by anti-cannabis legislation far outweigh any such increase.

One of the classic rhetorical tricks used by politicians who are faced with a policy they don’t like is to dig as deeply as possible to find a negative, to exaggerate and focus on that negative, and to ignore or minimize the positives that come from that legislation. But, one has to look at the situation as a whole.

Second, at some point it is not in the government’s interest to regulate safety down to the last jot and tittle. There are numerous bad laws that could be passed that could further cut accidents and fatalities. As an example, they could require a governor on each and every car, limiting top speed to 65, 55 or 45mph. As another, they could require an alcohol-breath interlock on all cars, not just those of people with DUI records. They could ban solo logging (that’s a big issue in my area), they could ban solo fishing. They could require all persons on boats to wear life jackets at all times. They could put a 30mph limit on snowmobiles. They could legally limit the power to weight ratio of automobiles and motorcycles.

I could go on. All of those laws would save lives. And they would all be bad laws. It’s about statism vs. freedom; it is about perpetual childhood vs. being a responsible adult.

At some point, it’s simply not in the interest of the state to criminalize a drug that can be easily grown in every house, that, compared to the drugs it is classified with (opiates, crystal meth etc.) is FAR less toxic (note that I did NOT say non-toxic), a drug that something like a third of the population will try and a substantial problem will continue to use, even though it’s illegal.

Third, the law, here in the United States, has a credibility problem. For the past hundred years or so, the government has failed to heed the adage that one shouldn’t make a law that isn’t going to be obeyed. When it comes to cannabis, the horse has left the barn. Closing the door now is pointless. Cannabis is everywhere.

But, it’s still illegal in most places. And, once one breaks laws on a daily basis, the police are your enemy, not your aid; the government is your enemy in everything, not just on tax day; and societal cohesion is damaged on a daily basis. Anti-cannabis legislation helps pull our society apart.

Jesse Thorson said...

One must always remember: Correlation is not the same as causation.

Many people who conflate the two are attempting to change something. In this example; A politician who makes the claim that legal MJ causes an increase in collisions has an agenda, most likely, to make it illegal.

Borepatch said...

I would recommend taking this sort of analysis with a HUGE grain of salt. Jesse Thornton's comment is on point, but there are other areas of (big) concern:

1. Use of inappropriate control control group. Utah is heavily Mormon, and both alcohol and drug use is different there from other States. How different? Perhaps hard to say, but the idea that this is a valid control for Colorado is not obvious.

2. Limited time horizon potentially masking expected variability. The report claims that 3% change is significant, but does not say over what time period. What is the expected annual variability? What is the maximum recorded variance over the last, say, 20 years.

3. How was (or just plain old *was*) intoxication measured, or was everything projected? The report admits that no definitive connection has been made in the past between recorded marijuana blood levels in accident drivers and increased accidents. These measurements are notoriously unreliable as indications of impairment anyway. Is there any direct evidence to support the conclusion here, or is this all a result of statistical projections?

Yes, I have not RTFA'ed, but these just jump out at you. It reminds me of some of the articles tat we see about Global Warming or Gun Control.

Is it possible that the results hold water? Sure. Is it possible that the results were what the Agency issuing the grant was looking for? Sure.

None of this is to say that legalizing drugs won't lead to an increase in driving while impaired. However, if we are going to base policy on claims of impairment and public safety then it seems that we should have some actual, you know, evidence (rather than "just so" stories).

A.B. Prosper said...

Former resident of Colorado if it matters.

The crime isn't drug use but intoxicated driving. That we have plenty of authority to deal with

To what Rich said about intoxicants, how many we need isn't up to him or "society" in general to decide. Its up to the individual, well unless you don't regard individual choice is that important. There are a very few exceptions but even the grotesquery that is modern marijuana isn't one of them.

Also historically basically every single human society uses intoxicants of some kind as do the majority of people if only caffeine, ecstatic dance, mediation

They aren't going anywhere and a social model built on "no one getting drunk/high/whatever " is stupid. That's not how people work

That has to be taken into account when policy is discussed.

Frankly I hate drugs and wish most of them would go away but knowing they won't, we are probably better off with them legal and regulated

Anonymous said...

How about this:

You cause a traffic collision while driving impaired.

The penalties, irrevocable and without possibility of appeal or stay:

property damage: full restitution even if indentured servitude is required

personal injury: full restitution even if indentured servitude is required

death: death

There, you have full liberty, and the consequences that arise from exercising it.

Chris Mallory said...

"The penalties, irrevocable and without possibility of appeal or stay:"

Considering the corrupt and rigged system of justice we now have, including labs that fake their results to gain convictions, doing away with stays and appeals is idiotic.

Are you going to require that the state actually prove impairment? Or are you going to keep up with the "blood level" standard that we have now?

A guy with pot in his system is T-boned by a driver who is late for work running a red light, are you going to enslave the pot driver?

Andrew said...

Well, who couldn't see this coming? Geeze Louise, people. Allowing stoners to stone of course increases auto accidents due to impaired driving.

And just because the stoner is the one that is t-boned doesn't mean his impairment didn't play into the situation. I've not been t-boned because I was aware of the drivers on cross streets (escaped by a snail's fart distance.)

Impaired is impaired. I don't want my world surrounded by impaired people. I accept, poorly, that there are drunks around me. I don't like that there are people using illegal substances around me. I sure as heck don't want those illegal substances made legal for recreational use.

Screw you all. Your 'rights' stop when they affect me and mine. Calling it 'victimless' is a cheap excuse to not take responsibility for the complete stupidity of our fellow man. By that reasoning, communism is a 'victimless crime' and so is abortion.

Nope. Too many victims already. Making 'recreational drugs' legal doesn't un-victimize all those who will be victimized by the new wonderful legal drugs. It just takes away what little social stigmatization away from these people's actions that used to keep the social user inside the house instead of randomly wandering around and causing trouble.

I see it in the county I live in. Our dumb-ass stupid county and city commissioners have de-criminalized the public use of marijuana, now issuing civil tickets, and down-criminalizing other drugs (yes, children, pot is a stinking drug, literally.) Low level crime has increased, but the police are not taking care of it. Slowly I am watching certain sections of town, that had heavier police patrols attacking the drug issue, now have the very same cops ignoring the hoodrats (oops, cat's out of the bag) and watching the low-level crimes slowing destroying those struggling neighborhoods. And the college kid neighborhoods are sinking into the same cesspool.

Sorry for the rant. Yeah, yeah, yeah, personal liberty, yeah, yeah, yeah. When will society allow me to indulge in my personal serial killer liberty without punishing me?

eriko said...

We legalized alcohol. I have seen a lot more people do stupid violent things while consuming alcohol. For that matter I have done stupid violent things while consuming alcohol. The stupidest things I have seen people do while smoking week were generally food related. If you are going to fight for the regulation of weed you need to look at it like we look at gun control laws. Most of those laws do nothing or regulate people causing no harms. So if you want to regulate intoxicants you need to look at what ones are causing harm. Alcohol is basically at the top of the list. Medical issues, violence, child abandonment, rape (lower someone self control so that they rape or impairing them to the point that they get raped) and the list goes on. The only issue with weed where it is illegal is that it funds criminal organizations. Legalize that and the issue goes away.

Anonymous said...

We legalize it for the exact same reasons we legalize firearms. Because the fact that some people do stupid criminal things with their rights that cause other people injury or even death is not sufficient reason to infringe on the liberties of the populace. If "someone might hurt someone" is reason to ban something, then firearms are definitely on the ban list next. As are all cars, public transportation for all. Chain saws are right out too, along with most sharp implements.

How many intoxicants do we need? Why should we let you intoxicate yourself when people might get hurt if bad decisions are made? The exact same answer we give when those same questions are asked because of firearms: Because it's my right, I don't need a reason and none of your damn business.

Also as others pointed out, correlation is not causation. In addition to the issue pointed out with using UT as the control, and the lack of distinction between all forms of intoxication and specifically weed, I also would point out that the legalization of weed in CO increased the "drug tourism" in the state too. I imagine if the US were a different country, where guns were 99% illegal, and one state suddenly started allowing private firearms ownership and gun ranges, and a "shooting tourist" industry popped up, you'd see a rise in firearm accidents, likely larger than you'd expect.

Bibliotheca Servare said...

This is the same logic used to justify "reasonable" gun control. *waits for someone to say "but no one NEEDS narcotics!"* First: pain relievers are narcotics, generally speaking. There are many people who cannot function without taking medicine to dull the constant pain they suffer from. That alone is sufficient to invalidate the *need* argument. Second: 'no one *needs* an "assault weapon" with a "shoulder thing that goes up" or a "high capacity" (read: holds more than two rounds) magazine!" (They'd probably say "clip" but...I have limits, and calling a magazine a "clip" -even in jest- is one of them) In other words, "need" has nothing to do with whether a right ought to exist. Otherwise, all our rights would be contingent upon proving that we "needed" them in order to be granted the right to exercise them. Like the right to keep and bear arms.

And remember, just because the Constitution doesn't explicitly enumerate a right does not mean the right does not exist; as such, saying "but narcotics aren't explicitly mentioned in any amendment" is not an argument. It's entirely immaterial to the subject. A category error, essentially.

Andrew, congratulations, this line: "screw you all. Your 'rights' stop when they effect me and mine." Is a word-for-word replica of statements made by groups like "Everytown for Gun Safety" and "the Brady campaign" regarding gun rights. So no, sir. You copulate with *your* self. And with your ridiculous analogy "personal serial killer liberty" invalidate your own premise; it's not specifically illegal to be a serial killer, because murder is already illegal. Just like driving while drunk or otherwise intoxicated is already illegal. And your solution to the problem (that legalization allegedly increases the likelihood of people driving while intoxicated) is (at its root) to treat *all* citizens as criminals-in-waiting, so to speak. A certain percentage of people are (allegedly, but for arguments sake, let's say it's true) likelier to drive whilst intoxicated if intoxicants are legal. What percentage? It can't be a tremendously large number, or their would be no room for argument. So, let's assume (reasonably, I should think) that the percentage of persons likelier to drive whilst intoxicated if intoxicants are made legal is less than 40% of the population. Even if it's 49% of the adult population, it's still less than half. And if the other 50-60% of the population would only ever use narcotics in private, or under controlled circumstances (such as people who need pain meds to function, due to chronic pain, etc) they are not victimizing anyone else. But because *some* individuals would abuse the freedom in question, you would strip that freedom from *all* of the citizenry. See the parallels with gun laws yet?

TL;DR: just because some people would abuse a right (by shooting innocents, if it's legal to own firearms, or driving while intoxicated, if intoxicants are legal) does not justify stripping all citizens of that right. Arguing otherwise is arguing in favor of tyranny. It is already illegal to drive while intoxicated. It's not illegal to *become* intoxicated, with alcohol, in private. The crime is when you put others lives at risk by *driving* while impaired.

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Bibliotheca Servare said...

2 of 2

In answer to Mr. Grant's question "...why add to the existing problem by legalizing new ways to become intoxicated?..." Respectfully, why not reverse the question, sir? That is, if keeping certain intoxicants illegal reduces the likelihood of intoxicated drivers...why not make *all* intoxicants illegal, including alcohol? If the logic holds up, then that action would serve to almost completely eliminate intoxicated driving accidents. And if *that's* true, then (respectfully) by your logic, imbibing alcohol is *also* not a "victimless crime" no? If using *other* intoxicants (illegal ones) is (always) "not a victimless crime" because *some* people who use those intoxicants choose to break another law by driving while under the influence of those intoxicants, thereby endangering the lives of their fellow citizens...why isn't imbibing *alcohol* equally bad? What's the difference? Why not ban alcohol as well as those other intoxicants?

All that aside, I hope you are well, and that you have a truly blessed Sunday! :-)

C. S. P. Schofield said...

I would argue that most drugs should be legal because the government has demonstrated that it either cannot or will not enforce drug prohibition without trashing the Constitution.

Sendarius said...

C. S. P. Schofield:

I would argue that most drugs should be legal because the US Constitution does not grant the authority to the US government to prohibit them.

Remember, Prohibition was enabled by a constitutional amendment, duly ratified.

Prior to that ratification, the government didn't have the authority to impose restrictions on alcohol consumption, and knew it.

Anonymous said...

Impaired driving draws a lot of attention, regardless of impairment cause. The marijuana folks have various claims, among them that smoking dope causes fewer problems than drinking alcohol.

Maybe it actually does cause fewer, maybe it causes more; I'm not aware of a definitive study that confirms it either way, so we're mired in conjecture on the topic.

But....while we're all wound up on how safe or unsafe it is to drive stoned, picture this: Sam Stoner tokes up a doobie then jumps behind the wheel of his ride. Sam manages, through whatever means, to arrive at his destination safely and without incident, adding another check mark to the "MJ use allows driving safely" chart.

Sam is the doctor who greets you 20 minutes later when an ambulance delivers you to the emergency room.

Now, aren't you glad Sam didn't kill or injure anyone while driving stoned on the way to work?

Or, maybe Sam is the software guy responsible for the ones and zeroes your company depends on for its successful operation, or the financial advisor you depend on for maintaining your ability to fund your retirement or pay your mortgage.

Would you accept that level of dependence on Sam were you to be aware of Sam's need for morning bourbon shots to "take the edge off to start the day"? Of course not, but it's just a doobie, right?

You can plug in any MJ substitute: alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, valium, etc. (yes, some of those are illegal, but so was MJ before the voters decided it wasn't). I know I'd be first in line to hire a nuclear plant safety engineer who skipped all of those for some tokes from legal MJ, and so would you. Right?

Bellator Mortalis said...

A factor not mentioned is that the population in Colorado in 2010 was 5 million, and in 2016 it was 5.5 million. The link you provided to the study did not indicate if that was factored in. If it was not, the increase in collisions may simply be due to the increase in population.

Glen Filthie said...

Good grief.

No, there are no similarities between booze and drugs, gun control and drugs, or civil liberties and drugs.

Sure, you MAY have a case for pot. Let us consider modern drugs like ecstasy and some of the designer drugs that literally addict the user on the first hit. Let's talk about dealers producing these drugs in candy form similar to 'pop rocks' and giving free samples to children. Let's talk about crack whores that get pregnant and drop newborns that are already addicted. What kind of idiot will even play the liberty card like this other than stoners and addicts themselves? INFORM yourselves.

No, picking up a gun will not induce criminal behaviour. Yes, taking illegal street drugs that suppress the inhibition centres of the brain and impair the judgement eventually will.

I will tell you noble libertarians exactly where this will go: if you legalize drugs you are going to create an entirely new breed of welfare slob. Of course, the bleeding hearts will want to care for them and they will - at YOUR expense as a tax payer. They will need clean needles, subsidized drugs, shelter and all the rewards that go along with being a selfish, irresponsible freeloader and an idiot. And - you will pay too, else you will have these zombies and derelicts in YOUR neighbourhood. (You will get some anyways). Say good bye to your enviable tax rate, fellas, because Nanny is going to use this demographic of morons for her gov't agenda the same way stupid people want to use them to push liberty. Not only will the nanny gov't have to look after THEM, it will have to look after us too! Look what happens when people make their own choices!!!! Something must be done!!!! There ought to be a law!!!! It's happened in Europe and it's happening in Canada.

But you noble libertarians do what you're gonna do. Cut your own throats, or get the druggies to do it for Ya. Serves ya right for not being smart enough to know who your friends are. I'm with that fella above - screw you.

Anonymous said...

I used to smoke pot all the time in the 70's and 80's. It was REAL good up in gunnison at the time. Traveled all over the USA and overseas. Never once had an accident. I stopped on account of the job testing requirements. That and I just got older and didn't do anything for me anymore. But it was fun while it lasted. Better sleep, sex and I was a much nicer person.

Don in Oregon said...

I'm proud that my state, Oregon, had the lowest increase in collisions.

Personally, I think the 4% increase could be explained by all the bad drivers moving here from California.

Rob said...

Sounds like another vote to keep prisons a growth industry & the obscene profits from the recreational drug trade up where they are.

I went on my first drug patrol (USCG) in 1978, the pilot said we were going out "to do our part in keeping the prices up on the street".
Here it is 2017 & son of gun if he wasn't right 39 years ago!

Anonymous said...

>Sam is the doctor who greets you 20 minutes later when an ambulance delivers you to the emergency room.
>Now, aren't you glad Sam didn't kill or injure anyone while driving stoned on the way to work?

How is this any different from Alcohol? Or the guy who likes to stay up until 3 AM playing warcraft, only to get 3 hours of sleep and be up for their next shift? The reason we call these sorts of laws, the ones that ban dangerous things because you might hurt someone, "nanny state" laws is because they treat the populace not as a collection of adults, but rather as children. You want to address these concerns? Fine you address it by having punishments and crimes and laws against the behavior you actually want to restrict, that is coming to work intoxicated. Or do you sincerely believe that the war on drugs means none of your doctors, programmers or nuke controllers aren't high or intoxicated on the job right now. Because I assure you there are, right now, doctors, programmers and nuke controllers that are high or intoxicated on the job. The legalization of these drugs won't mean employers can't set their own policies, including maintaining random drug screening any more than the legalization of alcohol means that professional drivers get away with driving drunk.


No one is giving free samples to children, they earn way more money selling to the people that want to buy it in the first place, as far as I've ever seen evidence the whole "first one is free" thing is mostly an invention of Hollywood. Nor to the best of my knowledge are there any drugs that are "addictive on the first hit" since addition requires repetitive behavior, and also required modifying the body chemistry to induce dependency, which takes longer than a single hit. Are there drugs that are quickly addictive? Absolutely. But "addictive on the first hit" is as asinine as the gun control folks declaring that AR-15 means "Assault Rifle, 15 deaths per second" or that the Ruger 10/22 is so named because it's designed to kill 10 people with 22 shots.

As for taking illegal drugs that suppress inhibition leading to crime, how again is that different from alcohol? Or are you looking to bring back prohibition?

As for the freeloaders and the zombies, paid by the public dime, that's coming whether these drugs are legalized or not. Considering we can't even keep people from coming across the boarder illegally, let alone concealable drugs, and the direction this country is going is universal health care and UBI/expanded welfare, the question isn't whether or not it's going to happen, but whether or not you want the market place where these zombies are buying their drugs to be war zones where innocent people are gunned down in drive by shootings and where the DEA and the FDA and the various other alphabet agencies are more and more empowered to become ever intrusive in your life for the sake of the children.

C. S. P. Schofield said...

To my mind, the real issue is that the War On Drugs has caused widespread acceptance of the notion that it is the government's damned business what we consume. It started with drugs, but has now spread to soda-pop, salt, and fat. Seeing that there are studies proporting to show that the government's endorsement of the demonizing of salt and fat may have had exactly the opposit effec from what was intended and (by drastically altering dietary habits) brought about the so-called Obersity Epidemic, I have to say that I consider govrnment buttiskiism more dangerous than legalized drug use.

If, at any time these past forty years, the government had stopped the flow of illegal drugs for any notable period of time, I might - MIGHT - be inclined to listen to marijuana alarmism.

The laws against the Big Three (Marijuana, Cocaine, and Heroin) date back to the 30's. It may be said, then, that the War on Drugs has been raging for eighty years. It costs far too much, in lives, liberties, and cash to be allowed,to continue.

Don in Oregon said...

Just followed the link and found that the researcher, the Highway Loss Data Institute, is associated with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which is an organization of auto insurance companies. Surprise!

Call me cynical, but irrespective of any causal link between stoners and accidents, I think the insurance industry is laying the groundwork to require piss tests to get insurance, with higher premiums for cannabis users. Or piss tests after an accident, and if you fail your policy is invalid.

Chas Clifton said...


As a Colorado resident, I have seen articles all over the place on this issue.

The real problem is that there is no test equivalent to the blood-alcohol test, as this article explains. I know it's odd to cite a British newspaper, but there you go.

"Since the new Colorado law took effect in January, the “drugged driver” panic has only intensified. I’ve already written about one dubious example, in which the Colorado Highway Patrol and some local and national media perpetuated a story that a driver was high on pot when he slammed into a couple of police cars parked on an interstate exit ramp. While the driver did have some pot in his system, his blood-alcohol level was off the charts and was far more likely the cause of the accident."

So I am reserving my judgment. I am sure that many in law enforcement — including my county sheriff — would like to believe the worst.

Chas Clifton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

As another current CO resident, and someone who doesn't even drink let alone consume recreational drugs of any sort, I find this study highly suspect. Not only does it have the various methodological issues mentioned above, but without looking at the crime situation as a whole, how useful is it? I don't know what the stats are, but even if the results of this study are correct, if we have reduced the amount of violent crime associated with drug trafficking by some moderate amount (highly likely) but also experienced a small increase in traffic accidents, that wouldn't be a bad trade. Just looking at one small type of negative outcome without looking at the affects in general is a poor technique that will lead to erroneous conclusions.

I was in a fairly severe accident with a drunk driver who nearly hit me head-on after running a red light a decade or so back. I'm well aware of the dangers of people driving impaired. However, driving drunk or stoned is already illegal - how would making it more illegal help? I am in favor of more liberty, and harsher penalties when that liberty is abused. The guy who hit me was drunk, driving without a license, had no insurance, and was an illegal alien. He was taken in to jail the night of the accident and released the next day. As far as I am aware, nothing further happened to him. That's the issue that needs to be solved.

Don in Oregon said...

I emailed the study's author to ask if they corrected for weather. Oregon's Willamette Valley, home to most of the state's population, has experienced more than the usual number of snow and ice storms in the last few years.

He responded that they corrected for weather using state-wide monthly mean temperatures, which to my mind would not adequately compensate for a high number of localized, short-duration storms with freezing weather.

takirks said...

I think the inevitable solution to all this is going to be the abandonment of "impaired driving" as a modifier to the criminal charges. What does it matter whether you're drunk, high, or texting? Any way you look at it, you caused a car wreck. Charge the perpetrator with the result, not the for what their chemical state was at the time.

Further up the thread, someone pointed out that you can be driving in a perfectly legal and safe manner, ignoring your chemical state, and be hit by someone driving recklessly who isn't "impaired". Because you had touch too much alcohol in your system, you're going to be the one charged and blamed for the "accident" in most jurisdictions--Despite the fact that the other party caused the incident.

That's more than a little messed-up, and I think that going to a model where we don't pay attention to the chemical "enhancement" of the driver would solve a lot of these issues. Who cares if you are drunk? Cause an accident, deal with the consequences--And, a habitual vehicle-wrecker should be treated as a danger, regardless if they got that way due to alcohol, drugs, or just sheer stupidity.

Thanks to the idiots who passed these marijuana laws without considering the ability of cops to quickly identify whether or not you're too high to drive, and the rather plain fact that what's "slightly too high" for you may be "comatose" for me, well... Lucy, we gotta problem...

marsascendant said...

I have to disagree with both your argument Peter, as well as many of the arguments presented here against the legalisation of cannabis on several grounds.
First, in regard to the comparison of Alcohol and Marijuana it seems very clear to me that Marijuana is far less harmful of an intoxicant than Alcohol. While there are deaths from Alcohol poisoning regularly, there has never been a single known case of a fatal overdose of Marijuana that I am aware of. Also while Alcohol is known to be an addictive substance, to the best of my knowledge Marijuana is only classified as habit forming. In addition Alcohol is, in my experience, far more likely to disinhibit violent behaviors than is Marijuana. All in all it seems clear to me that as it regards the harm inflicted upon either society or the individual, Alcohol is far more harmful than Marijuana. This does not necessarily hold true for other drugs however

Thomas W said...

If we're worried about the harm of legal marijuana, we should also offset that with its benefits. I'm reminded of this by a news story in Chattanooga a couple days ago. There was a shooting with one person killed and two wounded due to a marijuana deal gone bad. Shootings, gang violence, and cartels in Mexico or Columbia are common side effects of illegal drugs, as was Al Capone during Prohibition. States which have legalized marijuana no longer have the violence which goes with illegal drugs.

Perhaps an honest comparison should offset increased highway accidents by any decrease in drug violence.