Canvassing for Opinion - aka "Blairs Brain on Cannabis"

IMHO prohibition sentiment requires inherent addiction to status quo, an incapacity to visualise beyond the here and now and a desperate desire to know others might feel the same... Reform is not revolutionary, rather it is evolutionary. Having survived banging your head against a brick wall the evolutionist relishes having stopped. / Blair

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Driving Us Mad With Data

A vehicle which crashed into a small guardhouse.Image via Wikipedia

Driving us mad with data

posted on MEDICAL NEWS TODAY by Blair Anderson on 02 Jan 2005

Re drugged driving item

If you had a research brief to determine how many users are drivers, rather than drivers are users, and the brief required a high standard of self report, then best this drug of prevalence be re-accounted in the epidemiology data.

The fact that cannabis or marijuana as it is disparagingly referred, appears in research as a low contributor to traffic incidence and injury .

Furthermore cannabis attributes as a medicine appears to contribute less dangerous driving effects than many prescription drugs, let alone alcohol.

Use and thus displacement of other harms, including alcohol related harms to others unrelated to driving may on a cost - benefits analysis prove to be very enlightening.

Drugs firms 'creating ills for every pill'Image by publik15 via Flickr

All indications are that this important data is being masked by the endless chatter about the evilness of impaired "dual diagnosis" drivers.

In our headlong rush to enforced civility we may be overlooking the benefits to society at large of having for the greater part wilful compliance supported by credible public health preventative messages. It has been identified that cannabis prohibition gets in the way of applied Ottawa "Where there are impediments to health promotion, remove them." principles.

There may well be substantial social capital in a beyond prohibition model.

Such capital will never be found while the current paradigm based on 'some chemicals are inherently evil' holds dominion over the data and how it is presented to the public.

No self respecting social scientist seems willing to dare question cannabis's unique role or its attendant potentials. There are many drug law reform minded readers who will recognise that cannabis prohibition is a public health anathema responsible for many (most) outcomes and costs it was intended to limit. However, few will recognise the role and importance to the drug war its illicit status is to keeping cannabis vilified.

As a drug of relatively little social harm its prevalence serves prohibitors well, Legislators, Politicians, Health Nazi's, Moral wowsers and a host of other stakeholders can, as in the driving data, and its interpretation blame cannabis for everything that is wrong.

Suggestion of reform is meet with 'it is the thin edge of the wedge" - yet according to the alcohol and other social cost data where we cost in those innocently hurt into the driving data it begins to become apparent.

The double standards in drug policy ARE identified as a likely impediment to credible health promotion. Reform may well be the thick end of the intoxicating solution space than any thin edged dangerous wedge. "Enable Education" is the key phrase I read into both the recent Canadian Senate Inquiry and the New Zealand Health Select committee Inquiry of 1998 (

drug driven suicide - poster campaign (hdr)Image by Adam Foster Codefor via Flickr

Neither report supports a case for maintaining a drug by drug approach to management of abuse and misuse. On road or off. While both reports acknowledge the need for further and continuing research and reference driving research in particular , the reader of the driving data and media reports where cannabis 'driving' has been cited could be forgiven for being fearful.

A fearful driver, is more likely to support random drug testing and not question the efficacy or efficiency. Yet any A&E primary care will attest to the daily alcohol related mayhem, while we, the public are asked to react emotionally to incomplete data in reports such as "has been been taken into custody on suspicion of driving under the influence of marijuana". (see Mourners wonder why four had to die in wreck, Crash on Interstate 5 devastates 3 families :

While it may not hold true in this case, statistics suggest if alcohol was involved, it, not cannabis, would have been the leading contributor to non-performance or driving deviancy leading to this sorry tragedy.

We will never get a handle on prevalence of social tonics of an illicit nature while it is predicated on that cannabis is not a soft drug and thus deserving of zero tolerance while alcohol has a proven impairment baseline and yet self report carries no negative consequences. (cannabis only requires presence of metabolites, there is no proof of impairment. )

A road side warning in Victoria, Australia.Image via Wikipedia

Testing urine for cannabis [metabolites] is like licking someones exhaust pipe to see if they have been speeding yesterday.

When tiredness is made illegal doubtless no one will be be tired either.

Read the news article that this opinion was posted about: Impaired driving will affect 30% of Americans during their lifetime

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