There’s a new cannabis report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, and with a name like that, you can be sure it’s traffic reefer madness.
Some in the media consider this report the final “hard evidence” we need to take driving stoned seriously (and by proxy, never legalizing consumption sites, since, presumably, that increases the chance of traffic accidents).
Today’s reefer madness appears more insidious than the old justifications for prohibition. America’s first drug czar Harry J. Anslinger said cannabis (he called it “marihuana”) was the most violence-causing drug in the world.
Alongside newspaper baron William Hearst (who financially benefited from cannabis prohibition), the move to demonize cannabis as an insanity-causing substance and labelling the THC-free hemp crop as indistinguishable from the drug, the birth of modern cannabis propaganda began.
And it hasn’t gone away since.
Old reefer madness may look dumb and racist to us now, but what about current traffic reefer madness?
Because there’s no lethal overdose of cannabis, it has countless medicinal properties, and because large pharmaceutical companies can’t patent the natural herb, the powers that be must find another angle.
Ergo, traffic reefer madness, where, at least in Canada, legalizing consumption spaces is “premature.”
Traffic Reefer Madness Means No Consumption Spaces?
Only in Canada can traffic reefer madness translate into no consumption spaces. Presumably, people are incapable of walking to and from these places. Or taking public transit or a taxi.
And aren’t we conveniently ignoring bars and lounges where they serve alcohol? The report does mention it. It claims “more than 40 years of alcohol research have guided legislation, policies, and programs to prevent and reduce alcohol-impaired driving.”
But how they phrased it is dishonest. Their wording suggests we legalized alcohol in a strict and controlled fashion that paralleled mitigating traffic risks. But that’s not what happened at all.
Alcohol was re-legalized because prohibition – a public health policy – was a colossal failure. Since then, it’s been a patchwork effort to plug the holes. Namely, getting drunks off the road.
“Learn As You Go”
Understandably, people want to avoid the same mistakes with cannabis. But we’re not talking about the same drug. Nor are its effects anything remotely like each other.
The report warns about taking a “learn as you go” approach without realizing that this is the only way to learn.
These report’s authors need to be more familiar with Frederich Hayek. As far as social sciences go, without Hayek, it’s like you’re doing modern physics with pre-relativistic math.
According to Hayek, there is a pretense of knowledge with specific “experts” and policymakers. They believe they can gather enough data to make accurate predictions and design optimal solutions. Where in reality, the complexity and unpredictability of the world make this impossible.
Consider the significant problems with this latest traffic reefer madness report.
- The authors are overconfident in the data. The data they’ve collected doesn’t accurately represent “cannabis impairment,” nor have they accounted for all the variables.
- The report’s authors made too many generalizations. They extrapolated data and made recommendations that were not necessarily applicable or appropriate for this context.
- Finally, as is usually the case among “public” experts, they ignore unintended consequences. Mainly by focusing on the effects of one group in the short term instead of the long-term impacts on everyone.
Details of the Traffic Reefer Madness Report
This report uses traffic reefer madness to argue against legalized consumption spaces.
Moving forward without clearly defined strategies to regulate establishments, strengthen alternative transportation options, bolster enforcement and prevent impaired driving is ill-advised. Consideration of tactics to make cannabis consumption spaces economically feasible as a business should be a secondary priority to public safety risks.
As we’ve covered before, laws are already on the books to regulate cannabis – including cannabis consumption sites. This obsession with passing more rules and regulations highlights how philosophically inept most – if not all — “public health” experts are.
And it gets worse. The report says drivers with cannabis in their system are 1.3 to 1.4 times more likely to be involved in an accident.
Granted, they mention that testing positive for cannabis “is insufficient to conclude driving impairment.” But that’s as far as that reasoning goes.
You could smoke a joint and get into a fender bender three days later. This report will reference studies that list it as a traffic crash caused by cannabis.
This report is traffic reefer madness.
It finds the amount of admitted cannabis consumers has risen since 2004. That year, only 7.2% reported using cannabis. By 2020, it was 22%.
It’s almost like Canada legalized cannabis or something.
According to the report, this increase in Canadian cannabis consumers warrants new investigations and regulations.
According to reality, more Canadians are open about admitting their use to pollsters now that it’s legal.
In 2020, 2.1% of Canadians admitted to driving within two hours of using cannabis. The official rules state you have to wait until after two hours.
Do these people feel impaired? How often and how much do they consume? Are they using sativa cannabis like an espresso shot? How does cannabis impair a medical user?
Rather than ask these questions, wouldn’t it be easier to amp up the traffic reefer madness and secure future funding that way?
Of course, pedestrians are another problem, according to this report.
In 2018, over 25% of fatally injured pedestrians tested positive for alcohol. (Only 13.6% tested positive for cannabis).
So I guess we should stay inside all the time, then. Sober or not. It’s good for the environment. #ClimateLockdown
No Consumption Spaces Until XYZ
You expect a report from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation concerning cannabis to be full of traffic reefer madness.
The real problem stems from politicians who listen to this “public health” nonsense over their constituents.
Or even worse, if your Ontario Premier Doug Ford, you decide on consumption spaces based on your personal value judgements.
Following up with, “If you want to do your stuff, do it somewhere else. That’s my opinion.”
But his opinion isn’t just an opinion. His opinions determine how 15 million people can live their lives.
And why not have indoor lounges if the smell is a problem? Because Ontario‘s Smoke-Free Act prohibits it. Never mind that Doug can amend the legislation. Public health would never allow it. And we know how compliant Doug Ford is regarding public health.
The Smoke-Free Act is a joke. Only in Canada could the word “free” be construed to mean something you can’t do.
Four Main Factors to Consider
According to this report, there are “four main factors to be considered” regarding traffic reefer madness before consumption spaces get legalized.
1. People Driving Under the Influence.
They look at their success in reducing drunk driving and figure they can do the same with cannabis.
Of course, it’s not like bars were illegal until we got drunk driving rates under a certain percentage, so there’s issue number one. Number two, alcohol and cannabis couldn’t be more different.
We need more realistic approaches regarding stoned driving other than simply “don’t.”
2. THC in Trauma Centres.
When an injured driver receives treatment and the trauma centre runs many tests, 20% have THC in their system.
Keep in mind this says nothing of impairment. THC stays in your system for at least 30 days. Tests can detect it up to 90. Injured drivers with THC in their systems tell us nothing about what caused the accident.
Even when you account for the concentration of it in the blood, what might knock over a lightweight would be nothing more than a buzz to a medical patient.
3. You Have to Agree With Us!
Before legalization, some jurisdictions undertook roadside surveys to get a baseline for traffic. Of the 7,265 randomly selected drivers, 97.7% provided breath samples, and 90% submitted oral fluid samples.
The result? Only 7.6% tested for cannabis. Also, drunk drivers have decreased.
This report is attempting to make an issue out of nothing. The country is trending in the right direction regarding drunk driving.
When it comes to cannabis, the connoisseurs are right. Don’t drive impaired. But not all cannabis use is impairing.
I don’t know why public health busybodies can’t comprehend this.
4. Consumption Lounges Lead to Impaired Driving
If you thought traffic reefer madness was bad, this is where the report goes off the deep end. You and I are denied property rights because of an appeal to “public safety risks.”
The report says, “There is no evidence to suggest cannabis-impaired drivers will make safer choices than alcohol-impaired drivers.”
Of course, the absence of evidence does not necessarily imply evidence to the contrary. The fact this line made it through editing shows how this report is more traffic reefer madness than an objective analysis of the issue.
Traffic Reefer Madness Wins Again
Traffic reefer madness is alive and well. And it’s effective. Most Canadians see how benign cannabis is. But because so many view impairment through the lens of alcohol, they defer to the public health authorities regarding cannabis and the road.
The result is traffic reefer madness.
Of course, cannabis and alcohol will be the substances you find most in traffic or pedestrian fatalities. They’re legal and the most widely used.
This would be like surveying a popular tourist destination for Europeans and acting surprised when most tourists are from Europe rather than the U.S. or Canada.
The fact is: whether or not stoned driving is a pressing concern in Canada does not invalidate the intrinsic rights we have as human beings.
That means the person throwing you in a cage for smoking a plant is the criminal. The same applies to the criminal preventing you from opening a consumption lounge on your private property.
Canada may have legalized cannabis, but we didn’t do it for those reasons. It was a “public health” initiative; therefore, privately-owned public consumption spaces are verboten because they don’t fit into this model.
That’s how you end up with this traffic reefer madness report. Ultimately, the authors recommend training more police officers and giving them the tools to detect “cannabis impairment.”
But how dangerous can you be if the police can’t tell with their naked eye that you’re impaired and should not be driving?
Canadians need a federal government to provide defence and maintain internal order. We don’t need public health bureaucrats acting like helicopter parents to a nation of adults.