Driving while stoned is a worse idea than ever


Bart, in response to Bud recently saying that “Pot is no more dangerous than coffee,” shares this:

TUESDAY, Feb. 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The legalization of marijuana is an idea that is gaining momentum in the United States, but there may be a dark side to pot becoming more commonplace, a new study suggests.

Fatal crashes involving marijuana use tripled during the previous decade, fueling some of the overall increase in drugged-driving traffic deaths, researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health report.

“Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,” said co-author Dr. Guohua Li, director of the Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention at Columbia. “If this trend continues, in five or six years non-alcohol drugs will overtake alcohol to become the most common substance involved in deaths related to impaired driving.”…


46 thoughts on “Driving while stoned is a worse idea than ever

  1. Norm Ivey

    From the article:

    The problem is, marijuana and drug use before driving does not have the same stigma surrounding it as drunk driving has gained over the years…

    But at least it’s illegal. Texting and driving is more dangerous still, and South Carolina is one of 9 states that still has no state laws forbidding the practice.

  2. bud

    I love these articles that argue in favor of keeping something outlawed by citing statistics that show how bad the thing is. So let’s get this straight. Pot smoking fatalities have increased sharply. Pot smoking is illegal in most places. Therefore pot smoking should be illegal. That simply makes no sense. Of course driving and smoking pot should be illegal. No one on this issue is arguing otherwise. But a sharply rising problem is distracted driver by things that are legal.

    The good news is that traffic fatalities of all types are sharply down. SC had the fewer than 800 traffic deaths in 2013 for the first time since 1982. We must be doing something right.

    1. Bart

      In your own words bud. Please, justify your remarks above and the post below.

      February 4, 2014 at 8:54 pm
      Pot is no more dangerous than coffee.”

      Your obfuscation by citing traffic being down simply does not address the issue, no way. Did you post your comment while listening to “One Toke Over the Line” by Brewer & Shipley?

      1. bud

        Coffee causes all sorts of problems. If handled improperly it can cause serious injuries. Just ask the lady who sustained second degree burns from a cup of McDonalds Joe. It can also cause extreme anxiety and nervousness. No telling how many instances of road rage have resulted from over dosing on coffee. After the caffeine high wears off a person can become extremely tired, thus needing an addition “hit” of the deadly brew. (This can result in problems while driving). It’s a cycle of addiction than can result in extreme expenditures of money at caffeine parlors such as Starbucks where a cup can sell for $3, $4, $5 and even more! That’s money that could go toward the rent or groceries. And worst of all there are no known medicinal uses for coffee. Indeed coffee in the wrong hands can cause a wide variety of problems.

        Marijuana on the other hand is a naturally grown plant that can soothe one’s nerves, an affect quite the opposite of the anxiety-inducing trauma associated with coffee. People under the influence of pot are extremely unlikely to engage in road rage. Pot is also useful in the treatment of many diseases such as glaucoma. And it can be useful in helping aleve nausea resulting from Chemotherapy. And for that matter anyone suffering from a dangerous lose of appetite can benefit from a few tokes of some good weed. While it is true that marijuana should never be used while operating any kind of machinery it is probably less dangerous than alcohol or many prescription drugs.

        It is a known fact that no one has ever died from an overdose of marijuana, it is just simply not that potent. Can the same be said of caffeine? Probably not, given it’s very powerful stimulative effect when taken in large doses. Try driving a car after scarfing down a black Venti Pikes. (Something I wouldn’t recommend given how hot a Pikes is usually served) . I would maintain that a good case can be made that responsible use of marijuana by adults is indeed no more harmful than coffee and in fact can be quite useful.

        1. Bart

          ” Just ask the lady who sustained second degree burns from a cup of McDonalds Joe.”….Are you serious? C’mon, you must be joking, right? Now, how does the fact that a hot cup of coffee spilled into the lap of an elderly lady sitting at the drive-thru at McDonald’s have to do with comparing it to pot?

          And to equate drinking a hot cup of coffee with driving under the influence of pot? Now that is a serious reach if I have ever read one. Any idiot who actually tries to drink down a very hot cup of coffee while driving should be quarantined for being stupid.

          Has coffee ever killed anyone? Maybe if they were hit in the head with a large can of coffee falling from a tall building but otherwise, I know of no instance of coffee killing anyone.

          As for a calming influence, when I need something to calm me down, a cup of coffee usually does the trick. Coffee is perhaps the second most popular beverage in the country. As for the cost of a cup of coffee at Starbucks, if you can afford it, go for it.

          Thanks for the chuckle bud. After the day I have had, it really helped me to relax.

          1. Bart

            After checking, it seems as if coffee is not only the most popular beverage in
            America but in the world. However, there are several different answers. So, be careful out there and be on the lookout for those dangerous coffee drinkers behind the wheel, especially the patrons of Starbucks and the heavily caffeinated coffee they serve there.

  3. Doug Ross

    “Currently, one of nine drivers involved in fatal crashes would test positive for marijuana,”

    Does that mean the marijuana was a factor in the crash? Wouldn’t a person test positive even if he had smoked it the day before?

    So eight of nine crashes were caused by something else? Why don’t we focus on those issues instead?

    Alcohol and prescription drugs are a much bigger problem than dope.

    1. bud

      Upwards of 40% of all fatal crashes are alcohol-related. Prescription drugs are also a big problem. However, we shouldn’t understate the risks for pot smoking and driving. It is, and should be, illegal.

      1. Kathryn Fenner

        The issue with pot smoking and driving is that measuring intoxication levels is currently difficult. THC blood levels do not indicate level of impairment, and Doug is right that unlike alcohol, pot takes a long time to leave the system.

    2. barry

      I think they are all a problem unless medically prescribed for an actual, documented issue or problem (not the fake problems that a lot of the medical pot smokers in Cali seem to have all of a sudden)

  4. Karen Pearson

    If the number of “pot-related” driving fatalities is up, then clearly criminalization of the substance is not an effective way to stop use. It simply gives us opportunities to put more people in prison.

  5. bud

    ” Just ask the lady who sustained second degree burns from a cup of McDonalds Joe.”….Are you serious? C’mon, you must be joking, right?

    It’s called irony. Of course I’m being a bit sarcastic. But some of the anti-pot arguments are just as ridiculous. Jailing people for possessing, or even selling, marijuana is just not a credible approach to dealing with a relatively mild drug. The fact that a huge proportion of inmates are there for drug offenses is obscene and obviously ineffective. So why continue this expensive and obviously failed strategy. It has a huge negative effective on society overall and cannot be justified. And that seems to be the direction the country is taking. It’s about time.

  6. Doug Ross

    According to a Gallup poll in 2013, about 9% of American adults 18-64 smoke marijuana on a regular basic (over 40% have tried it at least once).

  7. Mab

    All of my previously-significant others were/are potheads — one in particular, the son of one nameless, faceless (Mississippi) county sheriff, sold more dope than Rome has crusty old bones — right under their noses — and none of these previously-significant others ever harmed anyone. #TRUTH#

    1. barry

      If they sold a lot of pot, I bet they harmed more people than you know. You, nor they, probably know about it.

      1. Mab

        Re: “harmed more people than you know”

        You mean >set up< , then harmed? That's 'the more people than' any of us know.

  8. Bart

    If anyone wants to drink or smoke pot in their homes, that is fine with me. However, when one takes it on the road, that is where I draw the line and support the stiffest penalties possible for anyone caught driving under the influence of either or both. Some may believe pot to be completely harmless but many studies indicate otherwise, especially when it comes to being alert which is essential behind the wheel.

    I really don’t give a damn if some good ole boy potheads from Mississippi never harmed anyone but after losing a brother, a nephew, and several close friends to drinking and driving, before I would ever support legalization it will be the proverbial “cold day in hell”. Adding another drug to the mix is asking for trouble and if it can be abused, it will be, count on it.

    The pot smoked today is stronger than what was popular in the 70s and as it gains popularity and legal standing, you can bet the producers and sellers will start doing the same thing tobacco companies did when they started spiking cigarettes with stronger and stronger infusions of nicotine. The pot producers and manufacturers along with research to grow stronger strains will start spiking joints with higher and higher levels of THC, count on it. The pot smokers are starting younger and younger and with stronger strains of pot coming on the market, the long term health problems will soon start to appear in long term users just like tobacco users. Back in the day, starting to smoke at a young age was the thing to do because it was not generally looked upon as being dangerous and the people who tried to warn us were not listened to and the dangers were not believed.

    As objectionable as the smell of tobacco smoke in a public place like a restaurant and the dangers of second hand smoke, the dangers of a contact high pose just as great a threat to the health of the general public if pot does become legal across the nation if the same rules are not applied for public use as it is with tobacco.

    Preach as much as you want about the “right” to smoke pot but don’t be a hypocrite about it and level protests that it is not harmful, especially when inhaled into the lungs or ingested with food. Since pot is illegal in all but 2 states, long term research on regular pot users is not available but some of the short term studies have indicated that pot does contain many of the same properties as tobacco.

    Here are three of the findings so far from an About.com article:
    •Many of the carcinogens and co-carcinogens present in tobacco smoke are also present in smoke from marijuana.
    •Marijuana smoking does cause inflammation and cell damage, and it has been associated with pre-cancerous changes in lung tissue.
    •Marijuana has been shown to cause immune system dysfunction, possibly predisposing individuals to cancer.

    My biggest regret is the fact that I ever smoked my first cigarette and considering the damage to my health and the financial impact is something that cannot be recovered.

    But, no matter what I believe, it will not change the minds of anyone who supports legalization of pot. In the end, supporters are entitled to their opinions just as I am entitled to mine.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      I do not believe pot is harmless any more than I believe the bourbon I just drank is. Maybe one joint now and then is fine, as is a drink now and then. The dose is the poison, and any amount of alcohol raises cancer risk, for one thing.

      Thing is, Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol, and it hasn’t done much more than lock up poor people and enrich dealers.

      At the same time, detecting driving impairment from cannabis is not at all straightforward. The rush to legalize it has ignored this. The New Yorker had an extensive discussion of a lot of the pitfalls of hurried or thoughtless legalization, and that is a huge one.
      As far as smoking anything, it should be banned in public places or workspaces. That’s easy.

  9. Bart

    “…the attitudes that led to the murder (and to the miscarriage of justice) are still prevalent here.”

    I am not sure if you are from South Carolina or not but I will state for the record that I vehemently disagree with your prejudicial statement or comment, take you pick. I know of no one in South Carolina who would acquit Tillman for the cold blooded murder of Gonzales. And if I am acquainted with anyone who would agree, they would be “unfriended” in less than one second.

    Maybe there are some who enjoy wearing the white robes and hoods who think he was justified, but as slow as South Carolina is in catching up with the rest of the nation in many areas, to equate us with a “prevalent” attitude of approving Tillman’s action is indicative of someone who has a preconceived perception of South Carolinians and will not change their mind.

    Some of us enjoy the peaceful aspect of a time long past but not the ugly underbelly of how some of the peaceful aspect was achieved. The so-called “defense of honor” Tillman used would be laughed out of any courtroom today unless it would be in a courtroom in a third world country where honor killing is acceptable.

    1. Norm Ivey

      I believe you’re responding to my post on another thread. I’ve been in South Carolina for 34 years. My children were born and raised here, and this is my home.

      I agree with you that it would be difficult to find a jury to acquit someone accused of an identical crime today, but Gonzales was murdered and Tillman was acquitted because of racist attitudes and distrust of the media (newspapers at that time). Those attitudes still exist in large numbers of people in South Carolina. I can see it in the passing of laws like the Voter ID law for which there is no need, but which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. I can see it when Shannon Scott is considered justified in shooting and killing an unarmed teenager sitting in a car across the street from his house. I can see it when our governor has to back down from a claim after being pressed by reporters by saying “I’m learning through you guys that I have to be careful before I say something.” I’ve seen and heard it many times in personal experiences.

      I love South Carolina, and I agree with your observation that it is slow in catching up with the rest of the nation in many areas. One of the reasons we are moving so slowly is that many Old South attitudes continue to guide our actions here.

      1. Doug Ross

        ” I can see it in the passing of laws like the Voter ID law for which there is no need, but which disproportionately disenfranchises African Americans. ”

        Come on, Norm… if the most egregious attempt to disenfranchise blacks is the voter id law, then we’ve come a long, long, long, way from the old days. Start with the number of blacks in this state over age 18. Then subtract everyone that has an id. Then subtract everyone who doesn’t care to vote. Then subtract all those who are capable of getting an id but don’t . Then subtract all of those who the government will HELP get an id if they need one. Who’s left? A very, very small number of people – and that group will grow smaller and smaller each year.

        I’d love to see an accurate estimate of this population.

        1. Norm Ivey

          The actual impact of the law will be minor for many of the reasons you cite. It’s the attitude that led to the law being passed in the first place that I find troublesome. It’s a measure designed to make voting more difficult for certain populations. Framing the law in the guise of combating voter fraud (for which SLED found zero evidence) doesn’t make it any less discriminatory.

          1. Doug Ross

            So it’s discriminatory but not against blacks in general just those small few who don’t have id’s.

            If someone can get a check from the government for Social Security or receive Medicare services, they should be able to identify themselves to vote. The notion that showing an id to vote is somehow different from showing an id to cash a check, board a plane, get medical treatment, or even buy a drink is a real stretch.

        2. Michael Rodgers

          If only there was a reporter named Hinshaw who could dig up this information for us, but I guess we’ll never know….

          1. Doug Ross

            All I have ever seen is the anecdotal stories about one old guy who never got a birth certificate.

            How many people under the age of 65 don’t have an id nor the ability to acquire one?

          2. Doug Ross

            No, but the number of people who are impacted by the law grows smaller every year.

            Show me the numbers. Not wild estimates made by biased people.

            And then let’s help those people get ids and be done with it.

      2. bud

        Voter ID laws are reprehensible and un-necessary. Clearly they are designed to help get GOP candidates elected. They discriminate against minorities and in some cases women in state’s that require the id match EXACTLY the voter roll. Since women have their last name changed when they get married (usually) and divorced that would deny more women than men their constitutional right to vote. Given the huge gender gap that helps Republicans.

        1. Michael Rodgers

          Implementing a Voter ID law is fine. The only issue is how to do it so as to not disenfranchise anyone because the right to vote is sacrosanct. This is an easily surmountable hurdle, and Democrats are more than willing to help Republicans clear this hurdle. The trouble is that Republicans don’t want to clear this hurdle; they want to run straight through it.

          1. Bart

            You are correct Michael, the right to vote is sacrosanct. One of the definitions associated with sacrosanct is “inviolable” and it would be the appropriate word to apply to protecting the right to vote. Inviolable means “not to be violated; not to be profaned or injured”. In order to protect the right to vote and not allow it to be profaned, violated, or injured, wouldn’t it be reasonable to establish a set of safeguards to help insure as much as humanly possible, the integrity of the “ballot box” for everyone no matter what their race or gender may be?

            As long as the rules are applied fair and evenly to everyone, a voter ID card if implemented properly could go a long way to insure fair play.

        2. Doug Ross

          Seriously, bud.. how many votes will be impacted? In this state, black votes don’t matter in many districts and are all that matter in others.

          All those racist banks, hospitals, airlines, department stores, bars, utility companies need to abolish their discriminatory policies!!!

          1. bud

            Seriously folks this is not that hard. It only takes a handful of disenfranchised votes to change an election. This is nothing but a desperate measure by a party in terminal decline to try and make itself relevant for a few years longer. There is virtually no evidence of voter fraud, so the whole “inviolable” argument Bart makes is utterly moot. It is offensive to me that in an America that outlawed the poll tax many decades ago it is now resurrected in this bastardised incarnation. Real Americans regardless of their political affiliation should stand up to this ploy to disenfranchise good, hard working, tax paying American citizens. Maybe we should bring back lunch counters as a means of protesting this affront to democracy. It is long past time to move into the 21st century and call this out for what it really is: anti-American.

          2. Bart

            Just so I get this straight bud, because I see nothing wrong with a legitimate Voter ID law that protects the integrity of the ballot box for EVERYONE, I am anti-American, want to disenfranchise black voters, want to resort to racist tactics to prevent blacks from exercising their right to vote, and to stretch it even further, prevent women from voting as well? Just because I believe it is important to stop the old “cemetery” voters who were the preferred constituents for many “white” Democrats, Alan Schafer to name one, who rigged elections for political gain, I am anti-American?

            Did it ever enter your closed liberal mind that maybe, just maybe some of us want Voter ID for reasons not listed in the Racist Playbook you and most liberals usually refer to when the subject is broached? Maybe, just maybe, all of us OTHER hard working, tax paying American citizens prefer the voting process be protected in any manner possible. If a Voter ID prevents ONE fraudulent vote from being cast, whether it is for a Democrat or Republican, then the inconvenience to obtain one is worth it.

            The “inviolable argument” is not moot; rather, it is valid to the point that if we are not willing to protect a right with safeguards, then the right soon becomes something that can be bought for a cup of hot coffee and a sandwich or maybe for some, a little toke on a joint. If you want assign racism to it, be my guest, it won’t be the first time you hurled your little missives without thinking.

          3. Michael Rodgers

            Bart and Bud chill out on this old issue. First, Doug is right that the largest disenfranchising thing is the districts. Cindi Scoppe has a nice column about proportional voting you all should check out. And she had another good one I recall about making the state election commission in charge of elections.

            As for voting integrity safeguards the most needed fix is to improve the safeguards of absentee voting and to expand it in the process. Some sort of voter ID is a much lower priority, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. Yes of course voter ID implemented fairly is fine. And if people want to start there, we can start there.

            Politically, this became a hot button issue because Republicans nationally foisted it everywhere locally as my way or the highway. When they super-prioritized it, focused only on ID, and didn’t address any of the legitimate concerns Democrats had, whoa, what a hot button it became for both sides. Democrats went nuts about it!

            And the result was that the law had to be defended in court for a lot of money and Attorney General Wilson rewrote it in his testimony how he said he intended to implement it, watering it down to basically nothing. And everybody’s mad all around because that’s what our state government prioritizes, dividing us all and getting us all mad.

            The way to stop getting all mad about these issues is to define them more clearly. “Voter ID” is too vague. We had “Voter ID” before; everyone had to present a registration card or a drivers license. Oh, you mean require a photo ID from everyone even those that don’t have them. Could you be reasonable and grandfather people in and/or figure out other ways to get them picture IDs? No?!?! So you mean “unnecessary, unreasonable, disenfranchising, racist Voter ID.” Well, everyone’s against that, surely.

            Here’s (one way) how to define Voter ID so it gets supported by all: Expand Section 4 of the law by doing it the way we do passports: people take their own picture and send it in. It’s “put your picture on your voter card” and it’s just like “put your picture on your credit card.” Also, people could get their picture taken when they registered or perhaps even when they voted. Require “picture on voter card” or state-id or drivers license (but not passport because it doesn’t show where you live) for every election after the next one after the law is passed.

          4. Bart

            Good comment Michael. I will be more than willing to chill out over the Voter ID issue but when one supports it, being labeled anti-American is not acceptable under any circumstances. It would be anti-American to not discuss it and both sides reach a reasonable solution as you proposed but when someone goes on an offensive rant or tirade whether they are liberal or conservative, there is no longer dialogue, just reactive comments.

          5. bud

            I clearly remember how the Democrats were vilified when the issue of absentee voting came up with regard to our soldiers. I believe it was the 2004 election and conservatives went nuts when Democrats merely wanted to enforce the long-standing rule that absentee votes should not be counted if the mailing date was later than what the law allowed. The “fix” was to allow overseas military votes to count but not others. In other words conservatives wanted to change the rule to favor them. I believe this occurred in Ohio. Eventually it was decided to allow all late votes to count. But the talk radio shows went ballistic suggesting that the dastardly Democrats were attempting to deny our servicemen and women the right to vote. That was not true of course but rather Dems were arguing that the rules should be followed.

            So lets just be honest here. The evidence for voter fraud on election day is extremely thin. Other voter issues are probably legitimate. Let’s allow all legal voters a reasonable opportunity to cast their ballot. If photo ids can be made at the time of voting then that would be a good compromise and a few election cycles into the future this will not longer be an issue.

  10. Burl Burlingame

    It’s extremely easy to test positive for pot. Airline pilots know this. You don’t even need to consume it yourself, just be in a room where someone is smoking it, and the traces can last a month.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Back when I represented kids in drug court, we were told you would not have traces for a month if all you did was be in the room with someone. There’s a dose effect….

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