Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jun 2014
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 The Windsor Star
Author: Howard McCurdy
Page: A6


Re: Most young, severely hurt crash victims high on pot, by Brian 
Cross, June 21.

The word "most" is generally considered to mean the largest part.

So, when a headline reads, "Most young, severely hurt crash victims 
high on pot," we expect that at least 50 per cent were high. Not so.

In one year out of three, pot was detected in just over 50 per cent 
of cases. In the most recent year, 2013-14, it was 46 per cent. 
However, pot is very different from alcohol.

It can be detected long after the high is over. Therefore, its 
detection does not mean the individual is high.

The inference from the very scary headline is that pot is responsible 
for many serious accidents but 67 per cent involved kids drunk on 
alcohol. How many of them simultaneously tested positively for pot?

How many victims tested positively for pot alone to support the 
conclusion it was indeed linked with accidents?

The statistically very small sample sizes raise more questions. The 
highest numbers were 29 in 2011-12 and 2012-13, dropping to 13 last year.

In fact, the rise in marijuana detection correlates with a 
significant drop in injury rates. Now that would have made a really 
sensational headline.

Alcohol demonstratively leads to aggressive, risky behaviour in 
proportion to the amount consumed. Marijuana's effects are almost the opposite.

As the Canadian Senate Committee report on cannabis of 2002 points 
out, psychomotor impairment from marijuana is very much less than 
alcohol and, in fact, it leads to more caution.

It agrees with other studies which found rates of accident 
culpability differ little between those high on marijuana and those 
who were drug-free.

My argument here is not that there should be no concern about youth, 
dope and driving. The issue certainly deserves serious study not a 
sensationalizing and misleading banner headline more likely to elicit 
fear than understanding. It is not responsible reporting.

Howard McCurdy ,     LaSalle
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