Pubdate: Thu, 24 Feb 2011
Source: Aspen Times, The  (CO)
Copyright: 2011 Aspen Times
Author: Ralph Givens


Dear Editor:

The Colorado Legislature seeks to deceive if they suggest that pot 
smokers are a danger on the roads. Drug warriors neglect to mention 
that several peer reviewed studies done by the U.S. Department of 
Transportation show that marijuana users have the lowest fatal 
accident risk of any category of driver. In fact, stoned drivers have 
a lower accident responsibility rate than totally sober individuals.

Notions about lunatic behavior of pot smokers behind the wheel first 
appeared in the 1936 movie "Reefer Madness." Like every other 
accusation in this scurrilous film, the claim that cannabis causes 
reckless driving is a provable lie! Blood tests of dead drivers show 
that stoned drivers are actually safer on the highway than completely 
sober drivers.

When marijuana fatalities on Colorado's highways are mentioned, the 
prohibitionists fail to mention that the pot smokers were only 
responsible for a tiny fraction of the accidents they were involved 
in. Most of the dead pot drivers were killed by drunks or distracted 
drivers. Cannabis users had a lower accident risk than teetotalers.

The Drugs and Accident Risk in Fatally-Injured Drivers survey 
concluded that marijuana has a "negative risk factor" for fatal 
highway accidents. A "negative risk factor" means that pot smokers 
have a lower accident rate than teetotalers. It is a scientifically 
verified fact that marijuana users are safer drivers than sober drivers.

Cannabis Odd's Ratio 0.6 (0.3-1.0) P-value 0.065

"Drivers in whom only opiates were detected had an odd's ratio of 
2.4, whilst marijuana cases provided a relative risk of 0.6. Drivers 
in whom stimulants were detected gave an odd's ratio of 1.4 whilst 
benzodiazepines gave an odd's ratio of 1.0. By contrast the odd's 
ratio for alcohol was 6.8."

"It was of some interest that cannabis tended to show a negative 
effect on relative risk when other drug groups showed an increase. 
This phenomenon has also been seen elsewhere [Terhune et al, 1992; 
Williams et al, 1985]. The most likely reason probably relates to the 
over compensation of marijuana-using drivers on their driving skills. 
Over compensation may be caused simply by slowing down and avoiding 
adverse driving situations. These observations do not seem to be 
related to whether delta-9-THC or 11-carboxy-THC are measured in 
blood [Terhune et al, 1992; Williams et al, 1985]."

This is not theory or guesswork. The numbers are based on actual 
highway fatalities, drug tests and a determination of who was at 
fault. After accident responsibility was assigned to each driver it 
was found that marijuana users had the lowest accident rate of any category.

According to all previous research, very few stoned drivers are 
responsible for the accidents that kill them.

Ralph Givens

Daly City, Calif.
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