Pubdate: Wed, 11 Jan 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Matthew M. Elrod
Page: A6


Re: Thoughts on pot (Letters, Jan. 5)

Letter-writer James Teller misinterpreted statistics from Washington state
on cannabis and driving.

The cited report states "results of this study do not indicate that
drivers with detectable THC in their blood at the time of the crash were
necessarily impaired by THC or that they were at fault for the crash; the
data available cannot be used to assess whether a given driver was
actually impaired, and examination of fault in individual crashes was
beyond the scope of this study."

The report also states, "It was not clear whether this increasing trend
was attributable to Initiative 502 or to other factors that were beyond
the scope of the study."

It is worth noting our police officers lack a roadside screening device
and legally established blood concentrations for a medicine cabinet full
of impairing substances, including analgesics, cold remedies, sedatives,
sleep aids and Marinol (Dronabinol), the legal synthetic THC pill.

Cannabis consumers tend to overestimate their level of impairment and
either refrain from driving or attempt to compensate for perceived
impairment by driving more slowly and defensively. The exact opposite is
true of alcohol.

Cannabis usage rates rise and fall with no statistical relationship to
cannabis laws and their enforcement, so there is no reason to assume
cannabis usage rates will rise after legalization, nor any reason to
assume cannabis-impaired driving will go up. There has been no significant
increase in cannabis-use rates in Washington state.

Far from being a "gateway" to other drugs, cannabis is an economic
substitute for alcohol and other more impairing substances, such that when
cannabis use goes up, drinking and other drug use go down, along with
drug-related traffic collisions.

Indeed, traffic crashes have been steadily declining in Washington state.

Matthew M. Elrod

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