cannabisnews.com: The Next Campaign





The Next Campaign
Posted by CN Staff on May 16, 2003 at 23:32:15 PT
By John Ibbitson
Source: Globe and Mail 
Canada won international admiration in the 1980s and 1990s for its efforts to curb drinking and driving.It wasn't simply the strict laws and the roadside Breathalyzer programs. Advertising campaigns and media reports drove home the message that it was criminally stupid to get in a car after you'd had a few. Drinking and driving became so socially unacceptable that only truly pathological drinkers are now willing to risk the opprobrium.
So are we about to undo all that good work by decriminalizing marijuana? The answer is no, not if we do things right.Viscerally, no one likes the idea of people toking and driving. Those who advocate liberalization can drag out all the studies they want purporting to show that moderate marijuana use does not impair driving ability. They're all rubbish. If you're stoned, you're not fit to get behind a wheel. Whatever the effect on your hand-to-eye coordination and depth perception, pot unquestionably affects your judgment, and no one should drive whose judgment is impaired.Decriminalizing marijuana possession will lead to increased use. People who would like to toke but who have avoided it or limited their intake because they fear a criminal record will feel free to light up now that they know the worst they can expect is a $150 fine.Reason suggests that, without added disincentives, increased marijuana use will lead to increased driving while impaired by marijuana, which will lead to increased accidents and fatalities.So how do we keep that from happening? Simple: We treat pot like booze.There is no reliable urine test that can measure how much THC (the narcotic element in marijuana) there is in a person's body and when it got there. Blood tests are also unreliable and seriously intrusive. And many of the tests for alcohol  the smell on the breath, the stagger, the slurred speech  aren't necessarily present in a stoned driver.This makes it harder to convict someone of driving while impaired by pot, but it does not make it impossible.We need three things. The first is reliable scientific research that can determine what level of TCH is the equivalent of alcohol's famous .08 (80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood), accompanied by an effective roadside test that can measure THC levels in the blood. A saliva-based test reportedly exists, but the equipment is prohibitively expensive. Yet surely the costs would come down if demand increased. The federal government needs to invest in the necessary research and equipment to ascertain and detect pot-induced impairment. There could be no better use for all the money that's about to come in from the new fines.In the absence of such equipment, police need training and powers to get people they suspect of being stoned out from behind the wheel. Drug recognition evaluation training is already widespread in the West; it needs to be universal. Refusal by a driver to submit to a police test should be the equivalent of refusing to take a Breathalyzer. Failing the test should give police the power to demand a urine or blood sample that would determine whether any THC is in the person's blood. Presence of THC  even if it does not indicate how much or how old  combined with a failed test should be grounds for conviction.Nova Scotia recently introduced a law giving police the power to issue a 24-hour licence suspension for any driver police consider impaired due to drugs. Other provinces need to do likewise, and governments will need to vigorously defend the legislation from constitutional challenge. When it comes to operating a motor vehicle, public safety trumps individual rights.Finally, and most important, governments must educate the public that all drugs  legal as well as illegal  don't mix with driving. We did it with booze; we can do it with pot and allergy medication.In a way, it would be easier to go past decriminalizing pot possession and to fully legalize it. Then the state could control how it is sold, and where and when it's legal to use it. But that day is far off. In the meantime, society as a whole appears to favour decriminalizing marijuana possession, at least in principle. The bill that will arrive in about 10 days in Parliament will, however, only be the first step. We need to get the message out to pot users: If you inhale, take a cab.From Saturday's Globe and Mail Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)Author: John IbbitsonPublished: Saturday, May 17, 2003Copyright: 2003 The Globe and Mail CompanyContact: letters globeandmail.caWebsite: http://www.globeandmail.com/Related Articles & Web Site:Cannabis News Canadian Linkshttp://freedomtoexhale.com/can.htmLighter Penalties for Minors in Pot Bill http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread16309.shtmlCops Now Have a Leg Up On Tokershttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread16105.shtml
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Comment #5 posted by Lehder on May 17, 2003 at 07:27:52 PT
conspiracy!
It started with the tearing up of the street car lines by General Motors early in the last century and it has not let up for a moment. So many policies have been implemented that force our dependence on cars that it at least seems like a conspiracy. We hear a lot about America's "love affair" with the automobile, yet I know lots of people who remain uninfatuated. I for one would rather take a bus; and more and more people cannot afford a car, let alone all the attendent expenses if it's to be legally and safely driven.I also rather dislike the layout of recently planned areas our cities: huge tracts of houses built by large national construction companies, oceans of identical roofs and tiny yards without a store, a park, a single vacant lot, a bench, a fountain, a restaurant, and certainly not a restroom! Even the rare bus stop has to be driven to and then you find only commuter lines that offer service for the employees of corporations at starting time and quitting time. Wanna go somewhere at noon? Well then, I'll pass to you the unsolicited strong advice from an anonymous chump with his head out a half-open car window as I hiked along the shoulder of a busy street in Parlous City: "Get a car, asshole!"You can take a piss in the city if you're willing to buy lunch. But if you want to sit outside and relax, you'd better buy a house and yard, because the park doesn't want you. In my city's park, two years in construction, the benches were divided into three sections by iron bars when the homeless found them good places to sleep. When, desperate, the homeless slept on them anyway with the bars bruising their ribs, the benches were removed entirely. "Keep moving, buddy. This is a park." And if you need to piss while you're in the park you're out of luck because a restroom would only encourage drug dealing and murder. Better to sleep in your car where you can pee in a bottle.These are cities unhealthful and inconvenient for people but hugely profitable for thin-wall artists like Centex and slews of other corporations, the same every aspect of our lives in America. If the houses were not homogenously jammed together then the builders would have to stop and think a bit over a blueprint different from the one for their universal house; the few yads of pipeline and sewer would cost them extra in bypassing any offensive anomaly among the standard cheese boxes.The petroleum companies not only sell you the gas, but mix the pavement. And if you're not driving a whole mile for milk or cigarettes, if you want to get out of the city and go maybe five hundred miles, then you better dirve again because you'll receive nothing but long lines, abuse, high prices and maybe a body cavity search or lethal x-ray at the airport. The union busters and security people have arrived to make sure that airlines become transportation reserved for the corporate and government elite who bypass the abuse with prescreen passes and enjoy corporate discount rates. The only place you can - must - walk to in our new neighborhoods is your mail box, now a block or more away so that the post office can save money. It's convenient for you too because with all of your neighbors' mail stuffing your box you can set your bundle of their mail on the community box where neighbors can sort out their own whenever they drive by. What, don't you trust them?But all this manic driving - life is impossible without it now - is loved best by cops. In your car you are vulnerable to them, moreso than in your home and moreso even than on foot. Here you can be chemically investigated, questioned endlessly, and your expensive car confiscated if your answers are nonstandard. In your car, you are trapped in a police state. That's why we hear so much about the privilege and grave responsibility of driving, that's why we are by design forced to drive, why the train no longer comes to your small town; and that's exactly how the war-makers and prohibitionists want you - trapped.
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Comment #4 posted by til on May 17, 2003 at 07:08:21 PT
re: impared drivers
My studies show that in many cases alcohol increases ones bravado to drive or do drugs. However if consumption of marijuana occurs first the need to drive, drink or use other drugs is not common because it tends to diminish the mellowness of the high. Actually a sense of concern occurs leading to withdrawel of any aggressive activity such as drinking or driving.   
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Comment #3 posted by CorvallisEric on May 17, 2003 at 04:16:54 PT
Impaired drivers
Decriminalizing marijuana possession will lead to increased use. People who would like to toke but who have avoided it or limited their intake because they fear a criminal record will feel free to light up now that they know the worst they can expect is a $150 fine. Reason suggests that, without added disincentives, increased marijuana use will lead to increased driving while impaired by marijuana ...People who drive "while impaired by marijuana" are almost certainly the same people who are not deterred by fear of a criminal record for possession. They are already users, or new users who would have started regardless of decrim.
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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on May 17, 2003 at 04:16:07 PT
LTE
Sirs,  John Ibbitson makes the bold claim that "Those who advocate liberalization can drag out all the studies they want purporting to show that moderate marijuana use does not impair driving ability. They're all rubbish."  Does he include the Canadian Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs chaired by Pierre Claude Nolin? And what was their conclusion? "Cannabis alone, particularly in low doses, has little effect on the skills involved in automobile driving." Their main concern was with drivers who might be using both alcohol and cannabis; in that case, they reccomend lowering the blood-alcohol limit from .1% to .04%  So, if alcohol on its own significantly impairs a driver, and cannabis has much less effect, why is alcohol the legal one?
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Comment #1 posted by Billos on May 17, 2003 at 03:19:55 PT:
Bah-Bah-Bah
"Decriminalizing marijuana possession will lead to increased use. People who would like to toke but who have avoided it or limited their intake because they fear a criminal record will feel free to light up now that they know the worst they can expect is a $150 fine". IbbitsonMMMMMMM..bet Johnny never toked. I'm not quite as old that I would remember alcohol prohibition, but from what I've studied I don't recall any statistics that claimed people did not drink soley because it was illegal. People did just the opposite. They drank more and blatently. The myth that cannibis use would rise dramatically after legalization is getting just as weak as the myth that cannibis use leads to harder drugs. It's getting harder to stump the public on these issues and the fedz know it. Hence, they grasp at straws by launching crap operations like pipedream. Idiots. By the way, if not everyone has heard, Chong is facing 5 years and a $250,000 fine for selling pipes.
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