Pubdate: Thu, 21 Jul 2016
Source: Penticton Herald (CN BC)
Copyright: 2016 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Devon Scott-Leslie
Page: A7


Dear Editor: I'm sure that D.M John of Vernon meant well with his letter 
to the editor on Tuesday regarding the dangers of legalized marijuana 
(otherwise known as 'Reefer Madness').

But what the letter shows is how dangerously misleading statistics are
in the hands of the under-informed and over-opinionated.

I think we can safely ignore the arguments about whether pot is bad
for children. Is anyone suggesting otherwise? All kinds of things are
bad for children, that's why they have parents. That's why ibuprofen
bottles are so hard to open.

The question isn't whether kids should smoke pot, it's whether the
state has any business prohibiting adults from doing so. We can also
ignore the "gateway drug" nonsense. I mean, come on. Is milk a
'gateway' to alcoholism?

The part of the letter which might actually mislead people is the
seemingly compelling evidence of increased emergency visits and
vehicle fatalities in Colorado as a result of legalization. This is
statistics at its worse.

If you actually look it up (I did, you should) you'll find that
Colorado has in fact been experiencing a steady decline in traffic
fatalities. This trend began before legalization and has continued
since. Contrary to the prohibitionist fear mongering, fewer people are
dying in car accidents now than they were when smoking a joint could
land them in prison! Go figure.

So where do the numbers come from? Let's think about it! First of all,
the numbers come from drug tests after the fact. Those tests do not
determine whether the person was actually high. They test for the
presence of cannabis metabolites.

Those metabolites remain detectable for days after one has used pot.
For regular users, it can be detected weeks afterwards. Unlike booze,
testing methods for cannabis intoxication are highly unreliable,
expensive, and time-consuming.

Look up "Cannabis drug testing" on Wikipedia if you don't believe

So what do those numbers tell us? It tells us that more people in
Colorado are smoking pot now. And so they should be, it's legal.

If you tested any significant group of people, you would expect to
find higher levels of cannabis metabolites now because that's the
point of legalizing it.

If I were to speculate, cops are probably also testing drivers now
more for pot than they used to. Which makes sense, because it's legal
now. And because, after an entire career spent harassing pot smokers,
they probably feel they have something to prove.

Alcohol is actually a dangerous drug. Prohibition, though, was a
nightmare. Gang violence and the criminalization of non-violent
citizens was the result then, and it it is the result now. Adults have
every right to enjoy booze. It is still illegal to drive drunk. It is
still illegal to sell booze to a kid.

Is pot harmless? Who cares! It is irrational and impractical to simply
prohibit anything that someone might hurt themselves with.

That's why we allow adults to drink booze, and that's why we should
let them get stoned. We're doing it anyways.

Devon Scott-Leslie

- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt