Pubdate: Tue, 10 Sep 2002
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: The Hamilton Spectator 2002
Author: Matthew M. Elrod


RE: 'Legalizing marijuana: Utterly ludicrous' (Sept. 6).

This letter writer's concern about the impact of legalized marijuana on 
teen driving is unfounded.

There is much scientific literature on the subject of cannabis and driving. 
Even the Senate committee -- cognizant of societal fears and misconceptions 
about the effect of cannabis on driving -- dedicated an entire chapter to 
the subject. In a nutshell: "Cannabis alone, particularly in low doses, has 
little effect on the skills involved in automobile driving ... Cannabis 
leads to a more cautious style of driving ... (Cannabis does have) a 
negative impact on decision time and trajectory; (however) this in itself 
does not mean that drivers under the influence of cannabis represent a 
traffic safety risk."

It's also been shown that when cannabis use goes up, alcohol use goes down: 
The result would be a net decrease in drug-related accidents. Economists 
Frank Chaloupka and Adit Laixuthai, at the University of Illinois at 
Chicago, estimate that cannabis decriminalization would reduce youth 
traffic fatalities by 5.5 per cent, youth drinking rates by 8 per cent and 
binge-drinking rates by 5 per cent. Other evidence suggests we would see 
similar declines in emergency-room drug and alcohol cases, and in crime.

Finally, what makes this writer think prohibited cannabis is less impairing 
than legal cannabis would be? And how does prohibiting cannabis aid police 
in preventing users from driving while under the influence?

We do not prohibit cough syrup, benzodiazepines or sleep deprivation. Nor 
do we have a way to detect these more significant threats to road safety.

- -- Matthew M. Elrod, Victoria, B.C.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Alex