Pubdate: Wed, 25 Feb 2015
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Michael A. Stusser


Several Tribes Will Discuss This Weekend Whether They Want to Get 
into the Cannabiz.

It should be noted that I'm not exactly a shill for the marijuana 
industry. (Though product samples can be dropped off at the Weekly 
offices: make sure to mark packages "Legal Marijuana" lest they be 
confiscated by the federal post office.) That said, when there's 
positive news related to cannabis, given my predilection for smoking 
the stuff, I have every intention of highlighting the study, report, 
innovation, or miracle cure-if only to counter the hundred years of 
Reefer Madness propaganda that came before. (They did have cool 
posters . . . ) With that pot-infused preamble in place, it's time for a joke:

What's the difference between a drunk driver and a stoned driver at a 
stop sign? The drunkard hauls right past, while the stoner waits for 
the sign to turn green.

A study released last week by the U.S. National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration shows no link between marijuana use and car 
accidents. And while that's no green light to smoke a fatty and jump 
into the Caddy, it's yet another death knell to the "Just Say No" 
talking points.

Data from the Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers 
showed that booze increases a driver's accident risk sevenfold. The 
road risk for people who test positive for marijuana, after adjusting 
for other factors, is the same as driving sober. Translation: 
Measurable amounts of THC in a person's system doesn't correlate to 
impairment as drinking and driving do. "At the current time," states 
the NHTSA report, "specific drug concentration levels cannot be 
reliably equated with specific degree of driver impairment."

In defense of the pharmaceutical industry (who are also welcome to 
send in samples), the use of painkillers, stimulants, and 
antidepressants also showed no statistically significant change in 
accident risk.

After alcohol, THC is the most common substance found in car crashes, 
and its presence increased the odds of smashing into something 25 
percent. That risk, however, disappears after adjusting for variables 
like gender, age, and race. For example, men and young people are 
more insane drivers than women and the aged-and they're also more 
likely to smoke ganja. Once you adjust for these factors, "the 
significant increased risk of crash involvement associated with THC . 
. . is not found." Another complicating factor has to do with THC 
staying in the bloodstream for weeks on end, so while you may test 
positively after a fender-bender, you may also have been mellowing 
out (and unimpaired) for days.

Clearly, it's best if people don't drive under the influence of 
marijuana. Hell, some people shouldn't be driving under the influence 
of their own power . . . because they suck. I'm only 50 years old and 
can barely see at night; they should revoke my license because of the 
odd raccoon-sized floaty-things that periodically drift across my 
retinas. Sorry, I digress. The most important thing for marijuana 
users to note is, while you're not nearly as bad as the boozers on 
the road, it's best to get baked and remain couchlocked. Who wants to 
fire up and sit in a steel cage, anyway? Stoned driving's just not cool, man.


The Justice Department announced in December that it would allow 
Native American tribes to grow and sell marijuana on their sovereign 
lands, which sounds about right, since THEY WERE HERE FIRST.

Tribal governments are now trying to figure out whether they want to 
get into the ganja game, and have scheduled a national conference on 
the matter to be held here in Washington on February 27.

The Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing about 50 
tribes, passed a resolution last year opposing legalization on their 
lands (partly due to health and safety concerns for their youth), 
while Washington's Suquamish said they were exploring their options 
for production and sale. The Yakama tribe, with more than 10,000 
members, also wants no part of legal weed, and outlawed it on both 
their own land (1.2 million acres) and the ancestral property (10 
million acres) they ceded to the federal government.

So long as they do it in accordance with the federal guidelines set 
up for states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or 
medicinal use, any of the 568 recognized Native American tribes can 
grow or sell the plant. One key sidenote: When you leave the rez in a 
non-legal state, you damn well better leave the Kalamazoo Kush and 
Chinook Chronic behind, or you're liable to be busted, big time.

The first Tribal Marijuana Conference will be held at the Tulalip 
Resort Casino. Tribes will pow-wow, so to speak, to discuss the 
future of cannabis on their territories, including cultural issues it 
may raise and concerns about substance abuse. Hopefully they won't 
have to sit through Tulalip regulars like Engelbert Humperdinck, 
Billy Idol, or Tom Jones. These wonderful people have suffered enough.
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