Tuesday, October 16, 2012

More bullshit on the drug war front

Apart from picking which lucky SOB is going to get to undeservedly claim credit for the inevitable economic recovery that will happen in the next 4 years, voters in some states are also going to decide whether to legalize pot.  Predictably enough, people that make their living from pot being illegal are harshing everyone's mellow.

"Next month in Colorado, Oregon and Washington states, voters will vote on legalizing marijuana," Peter Bensinger, the moderater of the call and former administrator of the DEA during President Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan administrations, began the call. "Federal law, the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions say that this cannot be done because federal law preempts state law."

Bensinger added: "And there is a bigger danger that touches every one of us -- legalizing marijuana threatens public health and safety. In states that have legalized medical marijuana, drug driving arrests, accidents, and drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed. Drug treatment admissions are up and the number of teens using this gateway drug is up dramatically."

Ugh, Huffington Post, it's "moderator," not "moderater."  Anyway, STOP THE PRESSES: Former DEA Administrator against taking some kind of small drug law reform?  SHOCKING.

Let's leave aside the question of federal preemption because that's boring and he's basically right anyway.  Instead, let's look at Chicken Little's second claim, that "[i]n states that have legalized medical marijuana, drug driving arrests, accidents, and drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed."  Wow, that's terrible!  Also total bullshit, as you might have gathered.

In my 10 minutes of Internet research, I couldn't find good stats on "drug driving arrests," but, surprise surprise, "accidents" in states that have legalized medical marijuana (and by "accidents," I assume he means "fatal car accidents," not "accidentally eating an entire bag of Cheetos" har har har) have actually FALLEN.

Comparing traffic deaths over time in states with and without medical marijuana law changes, the researchers found that fatal car wrecks dropped by 9% in states that legalized medical use — which was largely attributable to a decline in drunk driving. The researchers controlled for other factors like changes in driving laws and the number of miles driven that could affect the results.

Medical marijuana laws were not significantly linked with changes in daytime crash rates or those that didn’t involve alcohol. But the rate of fatal crashes in which a driver had consumed any alcohol dropped 12% after medical marijuana was legalized, and crashes involving high levels of alcohol consumption fell 14%.
The "drug overdose death" claim is just bizarre, because if he's hinting that people are dying from overdosing on medical marijuana, he's obviously very, very wrong.  In fact, most drug overdoses - about 74% - are due to prescription drugs.  And the rate of prescription drug overdose in New Mexico, for example, a state without medical marijuana, is about 3 times the rate of prescription drug overdose in California, a state that has medical marijuana.  Therefore, I'm calling bullshit on everything this asshole says.

And that, in a nutshell, has been the problem with drug education and with trying to discourage kids from taking drugs.  You tell kids, essentially, "the first time you ever smoke pot you're going to go crazy and die" or "the first time you have a line of coke you will become addicted and end up giving blowjobs behind the Pak N Save for a hit" and then kids try smoking some pot or snorting coke and none of those things happen. In fact, it turns out just fine - better than fine, actually, really fun - and that's it, you just lost all credibility.  Why should I believe you when you say that I really can get addicted to heroin quickly, which is actually true, when you lied to me about everything else?

Anyway, I hope they do legalize pot in those states and it inexorably leads to pot being legalized everywhere.  I don't smoke pot any more, but from past experience, on the harm scale, it's somewhere between Benadryl and Jack Daniels.  Hardly the nightmare Mr. Bensinger envisions.

So, on that note, Mom's flying into town today and the whole family is off to Yosemite for a couple of days where, I imagine, Mom will tell Half Dome she's disappointed in it and why couldn't it have been a Full Dome?  Maybe some medical marijuana wouldn't be such a bad idea after all.


Michael Strickland said...

Without marijuana I probably would have committed matricide long before my mother, may her soul be in peace in heaven, actually died a few years ago. The two of us tended to be uncomfortably psychic, and she wouldn't even need to say a word without my wanting to yell, like a schizophrenic on the street, "Shut up! Please turn the radio waves down!"

I sense a similar dynamic at work.

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