UPDATE: On November 13, 2013, The New Your Times published an Editorial called “Marijuana and Alcohol” where it stated; “For the most part, marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on road tests. Several studies have suggested that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually overestimate their impairment. They slow down and increase their following distance. The opposite is true of drivers under the influence of alcohol.”
That editorial seems to be based on an article called “The Legalization of Recreational Marijuana: How Likely is the Worst-Case Scenario?” by D. Mark Anderson and Daniel I. Rees that came out earlier in 2013.
Back to our original article, written after reading an interview with Mark Kleiman by Ben Livingston in April of 2013:
The United States is abuzz with record-setting polls that are the unthinkable for what is now a minority of the American population; the legalization of marijuana in the United States. If it weren’t shocking enough that the latest Gallup Poll regarding Americans in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana shows that a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalizing “pot” (common name for marijuana), both Washington State and Colorado legalized Cannabis for recreational use by adults in late 2012.
Some feel that its yet another signal that the end of the world is nigh, ironically, an opinion that exists largely in part to the Federal government’s seemingly inexplicable extreme position on Cannabis since the 1920’s (See Reefer Madness).
Marijuana prohibition is firmly entrenched the realm of extremism, replete with blind rage, conscious ignorance of the facts, as well as efforts aimed to purposely mislead through fear-mongering and the spinning of opinions from shrinks and psychologists.
To convince the American public that marijuana is so dangerous that simply getting caught smoking is worse than child molestation, rape or even murder, as smoking pot carries a stiffer sentence than any of those crimes. (For examples of this, see my article on “The Most Nonsensical Government Propaganda on Marijuana”).
To make matters worse for some, it doesn’t take a lot of digging to come up with a glaringly obvious conclusion: Marijuana is safer than alcohol.
And not safer by a little, but by scientifically measurable large amounts. The most curious of which (to me) is spelled out in no uncertain terms in a 2009 study regarding traffic fatalities between drivers who have consumed alcohol and those who have consumed pot: “They [the marijuana smokers] tend to drive slower and take fewer risks” resulting in fewer fatalities (Robbe & O’Hanlon, 1993; Sewell, Poling, & Sofuoglu, 2009).
To further illustrate, two studies came to the same conclusion: “In contrast, drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to drive faster and take more risks.” (Burian, Liguori, & Robinson, 2002; Marczinski, Harrison, & Fillmore, 2008; Ronen et al., 2008)
What is the dwindling anti-pot movement to do with such irrefutable, hard-as-nails conclusive evidence facing them? Well, they do what they always do, and start to attack, using propaganda, citations from studies that never happened, or simply misleading the American people because they truly believe that we’re all dumb enough to take their word as fact and not do our own research to find the truth.
The good news is that the American public is growing more “street-smart” by the minute as the internet becomes a more integral part of more people’s lives. Yes, there’s a ton of misinformation on the internet, but there is also a plethora of truth that none of us would have been aware of before such information began to interconnect worldwide.
One of the people who end up in the spotlight during times like this is Mark Kleiman. Mr. Kleiman is a public-policy analyst at UCLA, and a political appointee whose self-stated job is largely to oppose legalization.
He also has an easily-verifiable record of telling “tall tales” in order to support his anti-pot agenda. One such tall tale is the “worst-case scenario” scenario he discussed in an interview with Ben Livingston last month (April 2013) called “Don’t Call Him the ‘Pot’ Czar“. In this interview, something stood out to me more than anything else; Kleiman brought up, as a simple matter of fact, what would happen if marijuana were legalized:
01. Marijuana legalization would lead to more “heavy drinking”. / Jones, Jeffrey M. 2008. “Beer Back to Double-Digit Lead Over Wine as Favored Drink” Gallup. 25 July.
02. Marijunana legalization would lead to more “carnage on our highways” / Easily refuted in Anderson, Hansen, & Rees, D.I. (November 2011). Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption. Journal of Law and Economics, 56, 333-369. / Sewell, R. A., Poling, J., & Sofuoglu, M. (2009). The effect of cannabis compared with alcohol on driving. American Journal on Addictions, 18, 185–93. / Robbe, H., & O’Hanlon, J. (1993). Marijuana and actual driving performance. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety
03. And, dear me, it would lead to “massive increase” in the use of marijuana “by minors” / Easily refuted in “Study Shows No Evidence Medical Marijuana Increases Teen Drug Use” and in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System by CDC.
A Tale of Two Drugs: Alcohol & Marijuana
So, let’s take a look at more facts instead of fabricated fictions that supports my assessment that marijuana is safer than alcohol. First, let’s see if we can find a correlation between alcohol consumption and marijuana consumption:
Rees, Anderson, and Hansen, in a study called “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption” in November of 2011 examined the relationship between legalizing medical marijuana and drinking using data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. They found clear evidence that legalization actually caused reductions in heavy drinking, especially among 18 – through 29 – year – olds. In fact, they found that legalization led to an almost 5% decrease in beer sales (Jones, 2008).
And this is but one of many studies that arrive at the same conclusion: The more readily available marijuana is, the less alcohol that’s consumed. Now, I’m not yet saying that this is a good thing or a bad thing, I’m just pointing out that there is a clear correlation between alcohol and marijuana, and that many have concluded that one is often a substitute for the other.
So, sorry, Mr. Kleiman, but Point 01 is easily refuted when facts are added to the picture.
Marijuna and Highway Carnage
Next, Kleiman claimed that there would be “carnage on our highways” if marijuana were legalized. Shockingly, in the United States, traffic fatalities are the leading cause of death among Americans ages 5 through 34 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010). So even the 5% reduction of alcohol consumption mentioned above, potentially adds up to thousands of young lives saved each year simply by taking a toke instead of downing a drink.
But in several studies, including the one called “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption” by D. Mark Anderson of Montana State University and Daniel I. Rees of University of Colorado Denver and IZA in November of 2011, traffic fatalities actually fall by nearly 9 percent after the legalization of medical marijuana.
Wait a second? How can this be?
It’s the exact same reason we and every other proponent of the facts regarding marijuana have been fighting for years to be heard on: Marijuana is not only VASTLY safer than alcohol in virtually every regard, it has a long list of medical benefits as well.
City of the Pothead Children
The most disturbing “fact” that Kleiman spewed in that interview was the supposed “fact” that legalization will lead to a “massive” increase in use of marijuana by minors. This again, is simply not true, and has been refuted in study after study; a couple of which have been already cited above.
These kinds of opinions simply outline, even more vividly, the divide between our youth and outdated opinions based on propaganda and false information. As much as many in our society would like to do away with the internet, we have never, in the history of humanity, been more informed as a world population than we are now. And that is not only not going to change, it’s only going to become more so as time passes, and the internet seeps into the most emerging of nations, and becomes a daily part of more and more people’s lives.
It’s clear that the world population can no longer be fooled by political agenda and this is clear in the political unrest in our own country, as well as the political unrest throughout the world. Just as art is a reflection of culture, so is the Cannabis Culture. It’s not the subculture of a few radical hippies that most have been led to believe. Smoking marijuana doesn’t lead to a loss of morals, looting, raping, pillaging that has been drilled into our mass consciousness since before Marijuana Prohibition in the 1920’s, nor is it something that can simply be dismissed.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Bible itself makes more than a few references to Cannabis, partly because it wasn’t demonized in early cultures throughout the world. In fact, it was revered as a sacred entheogen as we’ve been working so hard to share with you in many articles on Marijuana on Entheology.com. It wasn’t even demonized in the United States until very, very recently. But many people have a short memory, and many look to the Bible for justification of their current beliefs on any given topic.
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Gallup Poll: http://www.gallup.com/poll/165539/first-time-americans-favor-legalizing-marijuana.aspx
Compassionate Use Act of 1996: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/mmp/pages/compassionateuseact.aspx.
Worst Case Scenario: Legal Pot: http://dmarkanderson.com/Point_Counterpoint_07_31_13_v5.pdf
49% Tried Cannabis: http://www.gallup.com/video/163865/year-olds-likely-tried-marijuana.aspx
Robbe & O’Hanlon, 1993: Marijuana and Actual Driving Performance, DOT HS 808 078, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, US Department of Transportation, Washington D.C.
Sewell, Poling, & Sofuoglu, 2009: “The Effect of Cannabis Compared With Alcohol on Driving“
Burian, Liguori, & Robinson, 2002: “Medical Marijuana Laws, Traffic Fatalities, and Alcohol Consumption“
Marczinski, Cecile, Emily Harrison, and Mark Fillmore. 2008. “Effects of Alcohol on Simulated Driving and Perceived Driving Impairment in Binge Drinkers.” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research 32: 1329-1337.
Ronen, Adi, Pnina Gershon, Hana Drobiner, Alex Rabinovich, Rachel Bar-Hamburger, Raphael Mechoulam, Yair Cassuto, and David Shinar. 2008. “Effects of THC on Driving Performance, Physiological State and Subjective Feelings Relative to Alcohol.” Accident Analysis and Prevention 40: 926-934.
Anderson, D. M., Hansen, B., & Rees, D.I. (2013). Medical marijuana laws, traffic fatalities, and alcohol consumption. Journal of Law and Economics, 56, 333-369.
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol: http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/regulation-works
Jones, Jeffrey M. 2008. “Beer Back to Double-Digit Lead Over Wine as Favored Drink” Gallup. 25 July.