One of the indirect though no less serious consequences of marijuana prohibition is the mischaracterization of clinical research in order to support the federal government’s bankrupt policy.
For example, last week the Obama administration called for the expansion of states to enact laws criminalizing motorists who drive with the residual presence of drug or inactive drug metabolites in their body. In the case of marijuana, these policies are especially egregious because its metabolites may remain present in urine for weeks or months after past use. Further, studies have consistently reported that the presence of marijuana metabolites is not associated with psychomotor impairment or an elevated risk of motor accident — a result that should be self-evident given that cannabis metabolites only form in urine after the drug’s primary psychoactive compound, THC, has been broken down and converted by the body over a period of several hours.
So how does the federal government justify its call for implementing such an inane and discriminatory policy? Simple. By claiming that supposed ‘marijuana and driving menace’ is so prevalent and severe that lawmakers have no other choice but to enact such inflexible and nonsensical policies to halt it.
Now I’ve written on the subject of cannabis use and psychomotor performance numerous times, including recently authoring the white paper Cannabis and Driving: A Scientific and Rational Review. In short the science says this: there appears to be a positive association between very recent cannabis exposure and a gradually increased risk of vehicle accident; however, this elevated risk is below the risk presented by drivers who have consumed even small (read ‘legal’) quantities of alcohol.
Does this conclusion support the blanket criminalization of marijuana or the enactment of the sort of zero-tolerant per se driving laws outlined above? No more so than such a conclusion advocates for a return to alcohol prohibition.
So what’s the administration to do? That’s easy — just fund more research. And what to do when that federally funded research fails to produce the results they were looking for? That’s even easier: just claim that they do anyway.
Such is the case with a just-published study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs assessing the psychomotor skills of subjects on a battery of off-road driving simulator tests both before and after smoking marijuana (and/or placebo).
During the course study, subjects were asked to respond to various simulated events associated with automobile crash risk — such as avoiding a driver who was entering an intersection illegally, deciding to stop or go through changing traffic lights, responding to the presence of emergency vehicles, avoiding colliding a dog who entered into traffic, and maintaining safe driving during a secondary (in-the-car) auditory distraction. Subjects performed these tests sober, and then shortly (30 minutes) after smoking a single marijuana cigarettes (or placebo).
So how did the subjects perform? Much to the apparent chagrin of the investigators, just fine.
“No sex differences or interactions of sex and marijuana were observed for any of the driving tasks. Participants receiving active marijuana decreased their speed more so than those receiving the placebo cigarette during a distracted section of the drive. An overall effect of marijuana was seen for the mean speed during the distracted driving (PASAT section). [N]o other changes in driving performance were found.”
In short, subjects had no greater likelihood of responding adversely to any of the simulated events after smoking marijuana than they had prior to consuming cannabis.
Of course, these are not the sort of results that NIDA — who provided funding for the study — or the Drug Czar’s office are looking for. Therefore, the authors are required find some outcome — any outcome — supporting the administration’s claim that driving under the influence of cannabis is a serious and significant threat. How do they do that in this case? Simple; by stating subjects lack of impairment was, in fact, implicit evidence of their impairment!
“Persons smoking the placebo cigarette showed an improvement in performance of the PASAT during the driving task, likely attributable to practice effects. Under the influence of marijuana, however, no differences were found between PASAT performance during practice testing and while driving. Participants who smoked active marijuana decreased their speed during this section of the drive, suggesting additional compensatory skills were used.”
In other words, the authors are claiming that because subjects on one specific test (the auditory distraction test) drove more slowly when completing the task after smoking marijuana than they did prior to consuming cannabis, but otherwise manifested no difference in the outcome of said test — or on any other test for that matter — that this is somehow strong evidence that marijuana has a significant and adverse impact on driving.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Under the influence of active marijuana, participants exhibited increased drowsiness, although this did not appear to affect their driving [emphasis mine]. Participants under the influence of marijuana failed to benefit from prior experience on a distracter task [what the authors want the reader to emphasize] as evidenced by a decrease in speed and a failure to show expected practice effects. This study supports the existing literature that marijuana does affect simulated driving performance [ditto], particularly on complex tasks such as divided attention. It is anticipated that many teenagers and young adults driving under the influence of marijuana are doing so while conversing with friends in the car, listening to music, talking on the cell phone and/or text messaging others. These behaviors divide the driver’s attention and are particularly dangerous under the influence of marijuana [what the authors really, really want the reader to emphasize].”
And that, my friends, is just the latest example of how marijuana prohibition corrupts, and how absolute marijuana prohibition corrupts absolutely.
so i assume that the tests were done with people who have never used marijuana before? otherwise they would know right away if they were given the real thing or a placebo……
and if that is the case, then we are studying people driving while getting high for the first time….. and they are STILL driving better than the average driver…..
but the average american is just dumb enough to eat up everything the ONDCP and NIDA have to say on the subject of drugs….. (its usually the same ones who think the government lies all the time….. i could never figure out the connection… but its there)
Absolutely! The anti-pots have their heads so far up their asses it will be 3010 before Everyone will be asking “What was all the Fuss about?” But what wont surprise me is allot of the anti-pots will be right on the band wagon as soon as all the other anti-pots are! Fucking Sheeple!
I just got into an argument with my study abroad apartment roommate, maybe an hour ago. He once had an internship with the DEA. He showed me one article citing “numerous studies” I showed him Tashkin, HNSCC, and 4 studies showing THC’s angiogenesis preventative effects in tumors along with inciting tumor cell death. He resorted immediately to ad hominem calling me “…The most ignorant drug addict he’s ever met…” I realize this is off topic, but the lead of this article is all too appropriate for what just happened to me.
He believes that Amsterdam is a country in economic shambles for no reason other than its marijuana policy. How can people think so irrationally as to simply ignore facts.
and just how do they propose to test for remnants of drug metabolites, perhaps left over from use or contact weeks ago? while an officer can always find some reason to legally pull someone over (failure to use your turn signal the full 100feet prior to making a turn; operating motor vehicle in such a way as to make the front wheel touch the center dividing line slightly), and an officer is always allowed to order someone out of the vehicle after making a legal stop, if the driver is not drunk, and has not come into contact with marijuana in weeks, what basis in the law is the officer going to have to test urine or blood for these metabolites? absent some reason they can put to words that looks like probable cause to a judge, they can’t compell a sample… so they are going to have but one recourse to enforce this new policy… enforced conent. they’re going to start off by asking really nicely… ‘you ain’t no drug addict, now, are ya son?’, ‘well then, you wouldn’t mind if i just went ahead and took a lil sample now, wouldja?’… there wouldn’t be anything wrong with this investigation technique, save for one minor detail: the vast majority of people don’t know that they don’t have to consent and that their refusal to consent cannot provide a basis for their continued or extended detention! fight all attempts to enforce this policy, and every other policy, even if you really have nothing to hide, DO NOT CONSENT!!! every person who folds under the pressure of the police state helps the state trample the rights of us all.
The argument that marijuana legalization would make roads more dangerous makes me absolutely furious.
The number one issue of importance is that those who smoke and get high KNOW they are high and KNOW when they are incapable of driving. If they feel unsure, they have have the mental capacity to pull over and halt.
In fact, those who are really really stoned will often feel uncomfortable and paranoid driving. Compare this to drunk drivers who will say their “fine” and ram their car into a tree at 80 mph.
Yet the same arguments get recycled.
This is an outrage! I will not stand for this nonsense! This is a severe violation of human rights! I will boycott driving if this goes through.
Why are you guys in support of strewing baby entrails on our nation’s highways? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Stronger laws for driving…urine tests during routine exams. The government is spooked by the amount of people that are coming around to the legalization side. I guess they figure if they prosecute you and take away your vote, you won’t be a threat to their agenda anymore.
The whole country needs a revamp of patriotism the Jefferson way. It is our duty to resist anti-democratic tactics.
Historic statewide initiative in California to legalize, control, and tax cannabis. Help build national support for the movement. Sign up on the website, join the campaign! taxcannabis.org
Wow, as an experimental psychologist I find that conclusion disgusting. I think it’s time to write these guys a note.
MMMMMMMMMMMMMM the smell of Impeachment
By the way I”LL shit in your cups, u want a nike sign or some soup
we can get sofisticated too
ARGH! I’m going to have to stop visiting this site… My blood boils over every time I do!
“Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on. We cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances. We guard you while you sleep. Do not… fuck with us.”
When are people going to realize that those with power want control of everything? I’ve always thought that as well #8. Persecute/prosecute all cannabis consumers to the point of each having a felony conviction then they lose their right to vote. Cannabis can be re-legalized. It’s entirely possible. To the point I’m just sick and tired of all the lies when people can see the truth. I can understand that some things are better left unsaid when it comes to certain topics but cannabis? Would this open pandora’s box? Would this make the world more peaceful? When it comes to the way things are it’s always more than what you think and less about what you may know. THINK. THINK. THINK. THINK.
They want to keep the black market money going to the criminal element, there is no other reason prohibition still exists.
seems to me this study proves that those under the influence of cannabis are SAFER drivers…
@sean…if your roommate thinks amsterdam is a country he’s got bigger problems than having been an intern for the dea…sigh…
What seems to be happening ,my conclusion only,is when( an or the)administration wants certain things to be tolerated or passed they will use a “worser evil” to get what they want,ie,” drugs are bad”,or in other words,get off our asses on what we want,and we will give you,(not the people),what you want. Tit for Tat. Simple Politics.
Total shit! I’m a felon for less than a gram of THC (2nd offense). Don’t ever move to Wisconsin. Don’t even visit.
In December of 1971 I was retired from the US Army after being wounded in the line of duty overseas. I tried to become a police officer but due to my injuries from the Army I could not sign up. Same thing with being a fireman. In March of 1972 I was caught with a small amount of pot and was convicted of a felony. On that day a decorated veteran became an outlaw. The laws concerning marijuana need to be changed NOW! America’s jails and prisons are full of non violent people whos only fault was smoking a little herb.
This is why I have been warning folks of entertaining this false notion of marijuana impairment even in the most casual ways.
We must argue the facts. We allow .05 for alcohol (or is it .08?). We allow personal discretion for a myriad of prescription and over the counter drugs (may cause – use caution) that impair a person far more than marijuana. I hear no outcry over these things.
I still submit that coffee users will cause more accidents over time than marijuana users based on the fact that stimulents cause aggreesive behaviour and THAT is what causes most accidents besides alcohol.
Give an inch and they will take a mile.
This bogus blood on the highway nonsense is the last argument they have and it is as bogus as every other they have used in the past.
Marijuana use does not significantly impair a persons ability to operate a vehicle safely. I can proove it. That is the mantra.
It sounds like Matunos is calling for a no tolerance policy on alcohol, because that is what causes thousands of traffic deaths per year.
Does Obama know about this? This is very sad. Shame on him if if does. He’s lost my vote.
Regarding the summary statement, there are so many flaws here, I don’t even know where to start:
“…This study supports the existing literature that marijuana does affect simulated driving performance [ditto], particularly on complex tasks such as divided attention. . .”
If someone is driving under the influence of cannabis and they are impaired, then they should be treated the same as someone who is driving under the influence of alcohol. If I had a beer last week, and I get pulled over, does that mean I’m under the influence and should not be driving? NO! It’s in the past and has no bearing.
“. . .It is anticipated that many teenagers and young adults driving under the influence of marijuana are doing so while conversing with friends in the car, listening to music, talking on the cell phone and/or text messaging others. These behaviors divide the driver’s attention and are particularly dangerous under the influence of marijuana. . .”
My God, sometimes I really can’t believe that we have people in this world that are actually this stupid.
First of all, legalization advocates are AGAINST selling to teenagers, or anyone under age 21 (same as the alcohol laws).
Secondly, there has already been substantial PROOF that texting while driving, whether you’re a teenager or an adult, is extremely dangerous and should not be done. Anything that distracts a driver’s attention, particularly young, inexperienced (teenage) drivers, are dangerous by themselves. . .driving under the influence (DUH!) is just a given. I will say this again, DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE IS A CRIME! If someone is driving under the influence, then arrest them and charge them with a DUI.
Once again, even with alcohol sales being restricted to adults 21 and over, there have always been (and will continue to be) morons and sneaky, stupid kids that will steal liquor from their parents, get loaded and get behind the wheel of the car and hurt themselves or someone else.
Does this mean that the alcohol (or in this case, cannabis) caused the accident? Should either the alcohol or the cannabis be put on trial? NO! Should the person who made the choice to get behind the wheel while under the influence be put on trial? Yes, because that person MADE A CHOICE!
And let’s be honest: most cannabis consumers (e.g. Stoners) don’t even have the desire to leave their house, much less actually get in a car and drive somewhere; so really this whole argument is a moot point:)
Let’s put personal responsibility and accountability back into the creation and enforcement of law. . .
Mind-Expansion is Education
Let’s stop making mind-expansion a crime!
Denying science – the only way to fight legalization!
Just like Nixon and the Schafer Commission… so sad.
So by driving slower (I would see this as a good thing) when distracted, you are showing signs of being dangerously intoxicated (by non-psychoactive metabolites of a non-toxic plant)?
Of course that makes sense! Common sense FTW!
It’s funny that on this web site just two short years ago everyone was saying the Democrats and Mr. Obama were going to deliver us from this insane prohibition. I wrote back then, “it was the Democrats that started the prohibition. Why do you think they are going to change it now?”
This war will be won by the states. Learn about your local candidates understand their views and support the ones that are pro legalization. Don’t be fooled by one party. If you must support one party, support the party that has now and always has stood for the repeal of the prohibition, the Libertarians.
Prohibition of marijuana is about money, corporations will turn us to stone before we realize, Californians need to send a message next November, a message of revolution, revolution of conscience, tell the corporations to back off on their overseeing attempts. When these kind of historic events become imminent, we see what happened in 9/11, they scare the shit out of people with terrorists tactics to make us forget the revolutionary subject and give away our rights and privacy, people, wake up, it is time to put a stop on marijuana prohibition. POWER TO THE PEOPLE, cheaper medicine, materials and less dangerous re-creative drugs. If marijuana does not become legal soon, people will start voting only for candidates that support a full drug reform, when it happens, the shit will really hit the fan, corporations will do what it takes to prevent it from happening, just stare.
so well said. these people were probably slowing down to the speed limit, what a novel concept. i say roll-em up, smoke-em up, put it in cruise and stay in your lane. scew you DEA!
# undrgrndgirl Says:
May 17th, 2010 at 8:24 pm
seems to me this study proves that those under the influence of cannabis are SAFER drivers…
Stoners just kick back, are mellow and don’t drive anywhere; drunks are the ones who love to get behind the wheel. I bet they’ll piss test to qualify for national health care. What the hell’s going on in America?
The Nazi party and the prohibition party came in power at the same time, and they are both very much related.
All you have to do is believe in the psychopath who leads them, and if you don’t then you are at risk being seen as criminal and may lose your job, your family, and your freedom.
Mr. Paul Armentano, would there be any chance in your mind that the Obama administration is trying to put these measures in place in more states that don’t already have this law to help support re-legalization when it happens?
I firmly believe so myself because one of the major reasons politicians and other people alike claim Cannabis should not be re-legalized is because there is no way to detect if a driver is under the influence of Cannabis (at least currently in most states). Even though we all know there is an abundance of documented studies, articles, and information showing that Cannabis DOES NOT impair a user’s driving capabilities.
I know the Obama admin knows there is growing support for re-legalization nationwide and that this support is only going to continue to grow. Especially since the number one idea on Change.org was re-legalizing Cannabis (for the second year in a row I believe).
So I think they are definitely trying to appear tough for this very important upcoming election year, but at the same time they also know that re-legalization is going to be a big topic come 2012, and they stand to lose a lot of votes behind anti-Cannabis reform measures.
Let’s say Cannabis is re-legalized in California later this year. There is going to be a huge movement that spreads from the west coast to the east coast (as it usually happens this way) to re-legalize Cannabis. This is only going to garner even more support from the general public because once other people and/in other states see how much money California is making off of Cannabis related sales, they are going to want a piece of the pie as well. So it is my thinking that when re-legalization happens in California (either this year or any other election year), the general public support for re-legalization is going to shoot up even that much more. Then this will make it hard for the Obama admin to ignore the climbing support for re-legalization and if we have enough percentage of nationwide voters who want it re-legalized, having this roadside test put in place in more states will make it much easier for the Obama admin to defend its support for the re-legalization of Cannabis.
Do you understand where I am coming from with this? After reading many articles on this subject I did a little brain-storming and figured this very well could be the case.
Please reply and let me know what you think; I would love to hear your expert opinion!
Thank you for your time and consideration, and please KEEP UP THE FANTASTIC WORK! 🙂
Wait, so now they’re arguing that distractions are dangerous while high? As if they’re not dangerous while not high? A distraction is a distraction. I would say (And this is purely unscientific) that aside from paranoia (Which only exists because of the dangers of being CAUGHT), if you smoked a blunt, you’d be calmer and thus less likely to panic in distracting situations. The less you panic, the more clearly you can think.
“Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing than he who believes what is wrong.” -Thomas Jefferson
And if they don’t believe and still support the lies,fie on them.
“The two enemies of the people are criminals and government, so let us tie the second down with the chains of the constitution so the second will not become the legalized version of the first.”
Restriction of personal freedoms…using bodily fluids to prove a person criminal without any harm to other citizens and no visual proof…military tactics against persons in violation of a misdemeaner, evident of clear violations of civil rights.
Aside from LEAP and others who feel they are civil servants, police are becoming glorified gang members and the law makers themselves the mob bosses. Jefferson was right…vote out all incumbants that do not side with less government for the people (rather than for the money grubbers) and keep doing so until they believe we still mean something. Also, when you see someone with a lot of financial backing BEWARE and consider the other candidates. Money and power go hand in hand, especially after the supreme court decision that gives big business an extra voice.
“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty.” -Thomas Jefferson
Americans Rule! Don’t We?
Thank you for your continuing efforts to progress our movement. I read daily and act on every form of legislature I can. Although my representatives do no always listen to my views, I do continue to remind them that people like me placed them in the position they are in to speak our voices. One day our efforts will be rewarded, and yours shall be ten fold.
That’s all well and good… and you’re right about this new policy being bullshit (two steps forward, one step back), but honestly– defending the right to drive stoned (as you do in regards to the study you brought up) doesn’t help us.
The only way people will really listen is if they understand we are in favor of HARSHER DUI laws, not softer. Though I agree, the metabolite testing is complete bullshit. When/if marijuana is legalized these tests will cease to hold up in court (it will become unconstitutional) until that time, it’s just another example of how they catch us “evil” pot smokers.
This is what happens when Science becomes for-profit.
Results (whatever results you wish) to the highest bidder.
Kinda like the financial rating agencies.
In my state, Missouri, a person can already be tested for intoxication while driving. Whether it be drug or drink – it’s just processed as a DUI. I have a feeling most states are like this. Actually a person can get a dui for driving on cough syrup, while sleepy or sick too.
It doesn’t bother me that people can get into trouble for driving stoned. It bothers me that a person will test positive days to months after smoking.
I agree, I will boycott driving if this goes through. Otherwise I would always be “under the influence” and would rather deal with a difficult life not driving than the difficulties & expense related to a DWI or similar charge.
Marijuana medicinal plant will eventually be legalized everywhere because guess what: it should not have been illegal in the first place, and people are starting to wake up to this simple fact. Marijuana medicinal plant would never have become illegal, had it not been for the racist prohibitionist Harry Anslinger and his infamous Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which was motivated not by scientific discoveries, but the most ignominious racist considerations. This status quo cannot be preserved with respect to marijuana medicinal plant that has been used by humans for over 10,000 years without one single fatal outcome, without any physical withdrawal syndrome as opposed to alcohol and most controlled prescription drugs. Cannabis use has been shown to suppress violent behavior, and I am sure that in the future it will be shown to be a “barrier”, rather than a “gateway” to alcohol and hard drug use. In all the polls over 80% of participating public want medical marijuana legalized, since its current classification by the DEA as Schedule I drug is against all scientific reality. But why listen to me in this respect when it is enough to listen to none other than the American Medical Association which now recognized the remarkable medicinal properties of Cannabis Sativa medicinal plant, and is urging the government to change its classification ASAP.
The “opponents” of marijuana legalization for at least medical use clearly remind me of Marxists, as I fought Marxism long ago just like I fight the Cannabis prohibition right now. After Karl Marx labeled religion “opium for the people”, subsequent Marxists suppressed religion despite the people’s will (just like the prohibitionists do right now with respect to marijuana) saying in effect, “We’ll take opium from the mouths of fools, they will thank us later”. The same thing, that is the Government assuming the role of a final arbiter of what is or is not “good” for the people, instead of the people determining this for themselves.
Thank you very much for the enlightening article Paul Armentano! It is really pathetic when people try to keep the truth hidden in such ways. It wasn’t long ago that the catholic church threatened Galileo for trying to tell the truth. Eventually, the truth won out! I just hope this truth wins out before thousands more otherwise law-abiding citizens lose their freedom and have their lives ruined to support the lies. I can only hope that this article reaches the eyes and ears of those who have not already joined the choir!
And wouldn’t slowing down be EXACTLY the right thing to do when confronted with multiple distractions?
and again, the same stale reference to teenagers-the constant implication being that this will open the floodgates to teens everywhere getting their hands on marijewanna, as if they don’t already have way easier access to it than I do as a professional mature adult. And as such, I take extreme exception to the idea of lumping responsible adult users like myself in with a bunch of inexperienced, impulsive teenagers.
It’s all false arguments.
The biggest point about legalization and regulation is that, as an adult, I should have way easier access to marijuana than teens do, but right now it’s the other way around.
If this DUID law gets passed nationwide (what they’ll do is compell states to comply but making it a condition of receiving federal funding for highway improvements).
I say if this passes, everyone that responds to the blogs on this site should spontaneously get together and have a drive-in on Washington (similar to a sit-in).
In the meantime, mainly because traffic tickets are one expense that I don’t need in my life, but also because of the per se laws, I have been on a successful campaign for the last 6 years to not do anything behind the wheel that would in the least way summon the attention of law enforcement. I’m the best driver on the road anywhere.
So in the meantime, catch me if you can!
“science becomes for-profit,” not unlike big pharma, eh?
Keep supporting the pseudo-socialist moralizer crowd and this is what you get! Not that the rightwingnuts are any better…LOL!
Change is scary and I think they are scaered to death. I wish someone would’ve had the balls back in the day to dispute that stupid, cocaine crazed movie they titled Reefer Madness. But that’s when the Pharmaceutical companies had just begun. The government would rather publicly crumble than loose the funds they receive from the Pharmaceutical dependency running rampid through our country. But it’s legally prescribed, so it’s ok. BS, it’s a full blown heroin addiction and everyone hooked is too embarrassed to admit it. Marijuana would generate far more funding to our government at a safe earth friendly rate than pain pills ever could and it doesn’t make you want to murder people when you run out, like the terrible withdrawls assosvciated with pain medicine and alcohol! The only legal substances, that our government get a cut from are harmful to our health. marijuana is not.
Testing for what was in your system in the past and has no affect on your current abilities to drive is purely discriminatory. All tests, for any substance, need to be scientifically acurate and non-discriminatory. Equalize all test results to show alcohol use positive (above .08) a month after use (then fry the baby entrail spreaders a month later) or stop the witch hunt against cannabis. The zero tolerence stance is corruption at its worst.
Thanks Paul. Keep up the good work. The truth will set us free.
#4. um… dave
I don’t know how it is in your State, But,In Ohio, If you Refuse testing when you are asked, You Instantly Lose your License, On the Spot! and are Considered “Under the Influence” and Arrested.
Some will not even “Ask” they do it quickly and will say you refused and arrest you, Especially if they find a seed or other Indicating factor, Reinstatement fees went from $75.00 several years ago to $500.00 NOW. It`s all about Fine Generation, Court Costs and Treatment Center Fee`s. MONEY!!!!!!!!!!
The whole point is, Cannabis is a safer alternative because it wears off faster and does NOT Impair Judgment like Alcohol does, people are aware of their level of impairment and adjust accordingly.
When most folks sit down to a meal,
thankfully, wisdom usually prevails when a person
has had enough to eat, they will push away from
the table, satisfied and aware not to overdo it…
have you EVER heard of a cop insisting that
he or she has enough power and to please not try
to give any more to them?