More driving-while-having-previously-been-in-the-presence-of-cannabis nonsense

The scare stories continue to pop up, like this one: Deadly collisions with ties to marijuana use have tripled, study shows (they originally had an even more offensively false headline: “Marijuana legalization leading to fatal car crashes, study shows,” but chose to tone it down to this merely inflammatory inference).

Check out some of the absurdities:

Lake County Sheriff Daniel Dunlap: “Law enforcement has worked very diligently to reduce the number of traffic deaths. There have been big gains made, now they’re adding another dimension to the problem with legalization. It makes you pause. We’re not supposed to eat too many Twinkies, have too many big colas, be in a room inhaling secondhand smoke, but we’re saying marijuana is OK.”

And that has what to do with traffic deaths?

Fortunately, the comments there have pretty much eviscerated the paper for printing this hogwash.

Lee Bowman with Scripps News sees the problem with per se laws, but seems to have a hard time understanding that there are alternatives. Many pot tests, but no certainty how much is too much

But with millions of Americans now legally able to use pot for either medical purposes or outright, there’s growing demand to know how much is too much to safely drive or perform on the job.

Scientists generally admit they don’t know the answer, in part because studies have been limited, but also because marijuana and the ways people use it have changed faster than the pace of research.

Paul Armentano (who is briefly quoted in that story) has an OpEd that gets it right: Extreme Zero Tolerance Anti-Pot Driving Laws are Unfair and Destructive

Efforts to better identify and prosecute impaired drivers are laudable, but the enactment of unscientific and inadvisable ‘per se’ legislation for THC — the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana — and its inert metabolites (byproducts) is not a scientific or advisable approach to addressing traffic safety. […]

The United States Department of Transportation Drug Expert Recognition Training materials similarly acknowledge: “Toxicology has some important limitations. One limitation is that, with the exception of alcohol, toxicology cannot produce ‘per se’ proof of drug impairment. That is, the chemist can’t analyze the blood or urine and come up with a number that ‘proves’ the person was or wasn’t impaired.” […]

As additional states consider amending their cannabis consumption laws, lawmakers would be advised to consider alternative legislative approaches to address concerns over DUI cannabis behavior that do not rely on solely on the presence of THC or its metabolites in blood or urine as determinants of guilt in a court of law.

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