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New Study Show No Difference Between Driving High And Straight

As we start to really talk about the legalization of marijuana there is a false equivalence that has to be addressed. Marijuana is an intoxicant but that does not mean it is like alcohol. Legalization advocates have had to deal with a lot of misinformation over the years about pot. The false correlation that pot itself lead to other more addictive and damaging drugs (when the reality was the correlation is about illegality of pot, not the affects of using it), the concept that it somehow makes a user less productive or permanently impairs cognitive functions.

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Luckily there is new and emerging science that shows this is not the case. There was a recent study which looked at the affect of being high on marijuana and driving. The University of Iowa did a small double blind study to see if how smoking pot would affect the ability to drive.

They took a group of 85 volunteers (50 men, 35 women) and ran them through a simulator for baseline comparison. They then gave some cigarettes with THC and some without and repeated the testing. The test looked at basic driving, distracted driving and collision avoidance scenarios.

The result was that there was no significant difference between pre-pot baseline or the performance between those who were high and those who had received the placebo. The major difference was that the high drivers were more likely to slow down in situations where the straight drivers did not. Since we know that there is a correlation between average driving speed and accidents, this tends to indicate that stoned drivers would actually be safer than none stoned drivers.

Of course this is a small study, but it is far from the only one that has been performed on driving and marijuana use. Take this study from 1999 at the University of Toronto. It directly compares the affects of alcohol and marijuana on drivers and finds:

Both substances impair performance," Smiley says. "However, the more cautious behavior of subjects who received marijuana decreases the drug’s impact on performance. Their behavior is more appropriate to their impairment, whereas subjects who received alcohol tend to drive in a more risky manner."

We must keep hammering home the fact that booze and pot are while both are intoxicants are not the same in their short-term and long-term affects. The pro-prohibition forces are going to keep trying to conflate the two, and driving accidents are going to be a big area of contention. The science shows that these two substances should not be equated but that is not going to stop them. Right now there are laws being considered that would make testing positive for the use of pot while driving illegal. The issue here is that the markers for pot persist in the body far longer than those of alcohol. Before the narrow minded forces of prohibition make this mistake we need to talk about the really affects of marijuana, not the “Refer Madness” BS that moralist think is the reality of the use of this drug.

It is time to legalize pot. Regulate it, tax it but don’t treat it as some kind of super drug or booze.

The floor is yours.

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Bill Egnor

Bill Egnor

I am a life long Democrat from a political family. Work wise I am a Six Sigma Black Belt (process improvement project manager) and Freelance reporter for