Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2018
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network
Author: Naomi Lakritz
Page: A9


Drunk driving laws have not stopped impaired drivers and pot will be
no different

Last Sunday, I was driving on John Laurie Blvd. when I caught up to a
motorist in the passing lane who was doing 40 km/h in a 70 km/h zone.
As I pulled out to pass him on the right, I could smell the stench of
marijuana coming from his car.

Wait until marijuana is legal in Canada and then more of these bozos
will be on the road. In Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for
almost four years, a recent poll by the Colorado Department of
Transportation showed that 55 per cent of people there think it's
perfectly all right to drive while stoned. As Time magazine reported,
the poll also found that of the people surveyed who had used pot in
the past 30 days, half thought it was fine to drive while high. Why
should Alberta's potheads think any differently when legalization
arrives here? Some of them, like the guy on John Laurie, aren't even
waiting till then.

What is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's rush to legalize pot? So he
can legitimately smoke up with his pals at 24 Sussex Drive? So he can
portray himself as the grand social engineer that this repressed
country has been waiting for? Had Marc Garneau won the Liberal
leadership, it's likely that legalization wouldn't have been on his
agenda. Neither Paul Martin nor Jean Chretien was interested in it.
Only Trudeau brought it up.

The government says legalizing pot will thwart the black market and
keep the drug out of children's hands. Yet, cigarettes have always
been legal and the black market in tobacco is alive and well. What
does the hopelessly naive Trudeau think the black marketeers in pot
will do - switch to stamp collecting? Nor has the legal status of
alcohol and tobacco ever served to keep either of those substances
away from children. Marijuana will be no different.

And no matter what rules and regulations the Alberta government put
into place regarding driving while high, more people will do it when
it's legal. Drunk driving legislation has been in place for years, but
people still drive drunk.

Last August, an investigation by the Denver Post found that "the
number of (Colorado) drivers who tested positive for marijuana use
jumped 145 per cent - from 47 in 2013 to 115 in 2016." The Post
investigation turned up other grim numbers: "In 2013, drivers tested
positive for the drug in about 10 per cent of all fatal crashes. By
2016, it was 20 per cent ... More drivers are testing positive for
marijuana and nothing else. Of the drivers involved in fatal crashes
in 2014 who tested positive for cannabinoids, more than 52 per cent
had no alcohol in their system. By 2016, it had grown to 69 per cent."

Naturally, those who stand to profit from legal sales of pot pooh-pooh 
the stats, despite the obvious parallels with legalization - the Post 
quoted one source involved in the business who scoffed at any 
connection. The paper reported that the state of Washington, where 
marijuana is legal, is also studying the data. Darrin Grondel, director 
of Washington's Traffic Safety Commission, told the Post: "Drug-impaired 
driving is now eclipsing alcohol, and that's frustrating."

Not all Colorado drivers involved in fatal accidents are tested for
marijuana, but Thomas Canfield, a Colorado coroner, says: " ... people
are dying. It's this false science that marijuana is harmless ... but
it's not, particularly when you know what it does to your time and
depth perception, and the ability to understand and be attentive to
what's around you."

Barbara Deckert, a Denver woman whose fiance was killed by a driver who 
had used marijuana, told the Post: "I never understood how we'd pass a 
law without first understanding the impact better,… and people are dying."

Sadly, some bereaved Albertans are going to be saying the same thing
after Trudeau's pot dream comes true.
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MAP posted-by: Matt