Cannabis Saves Lives?

No, I haven’t mistaken the category. This post isn’t about the promising research and results in treating various maladies with (various) cannabinoids. It’s about people off’ing themselves, car crash fatalities and cannabis ‘possibly’ being a mitigating dynamic in both.

I’m going to give you a link to two studies, each on the subjects I mentioned above, before I do, though, I’d like to ‘talk’ about them for just a moment. If you don’t mind?

It appears that states that’ve adopted medicinal cannabis laws have seen a drop in both.

Now, two things are glaringly apparent in the studies. The first that catches my eye is, the fact two of three individuals are the researchers in both.

I’d like to think that isn’t uncommon. I mean, say, you have a couple of neurologists working on the same concept(s), wouldn’t you expect to see their names joined on several papers? I’m just hoping there isn’t some sort of biased indicated. I just thought I’d mention that before someone else caught it and mentioned it. It is something to consider, I guess.

What’s the adage? “Statistics don’t lie, but you can lie with statistics.” I’ll give you a link to all of the cool graphs and charts here in a moment.

Before I do, however, I want to mention the second commonality: alcohol. It’s inferred in both studies the reduction in fatalities, by one’s own hand and vehicular, could be related to individuals substituting cannabis for booze. Or, something like that.

The indicated reduction in traffic fatalities was about 9%.
Here’s the study, with a bunch of cool math and stuff:

Crashing Sux

Interestingly, the reduction in suicide by women
wasn’t ‘significant.’ In men, however, the reduction for those in their 20’s was 10.8%; those in the 30’s 9.8%. Here’s the neat charts and more stuff:


In both studies there are a few issues with the methods, comparisons and other niggly details. I look forward to some peer review publications. But maybe, just maybe, cannabis saves lives?



  1. lucecruz said,

    February 6, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Hey Captain, youroldpaldan here.

    “Laboratory studies have shown that cannabis use impairs driving-related functions such as distance perception, reaction time, and hand-eye coordination. However, neither simulator nor driving-course studies
    provide consistent evidence that these impairments to driving-related functions lead to an increased risk of collision perhaps because drivers under the influence of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary
    psychoactive substance in marijuana, engage in compensatory behaviors such as reducing their velocity, avoiding risky maneuvers, and increasing their “following distances”.

    So, um, I would simply like to stress that even though studies show that marijuana use does not *appear* to contribute to increased traffic fatalities or collisions, it is still a bad idea, and illegal, to drive while impaired. Despite the assumed extra precautions taken by stoned drivers, they are still impaired, and allowing impaired drivers due to their prescription opens a door that should not be stepped through.

    I’m pro-pot, anti-DUII, and always will be until definitive and unequivocal evidence comes out that cannabis intoxication does not increase risk when operating a motor vehicle or machinery at all, period. In my opinion, buzzed driving is DUII, and so is stoned driving. If a police officer scan prove there is impairment, that driver should not be allowed to drive. My safety cannot be allowed to go up in smoke (that there is a pun. Not bad eh?).

    • capndrift said,

      February 6, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      “Cap’n” if you will, Dan. Though I’m no longer a squid “Captain” could get me strung up for impersonating an officer. Thanks, man.

      I had no intention of insinuating driving under the influence of cannabis was okay. I’ve always stated I’m opposed to anyone doing anything under the influence of anything where the results of an oops could be dire.

      Well, except for, maybe, back when I -was- in the Navy. But I’m older now ;^)

      Impaired is impaired. Period. I’m with you there. Still, though, exactly how any drug impairs an individual is a consideration.

      And maybe there are other factors. How many alcohol related fatalities can be tracked back to a bar? A bar the person drove to. On the flip side, is cannabis consumed in places that people drive to, or mostly in their homes?

      And yes, I know we’re speaking of states with medicinal (not recreational) laws, but still, I think it’s a viable variable – along with a myriad of others.

      The numbers seem to reveal states with medicinal cannabis laws have fewer traffic fatalities.

      -Is it- due to substituting cannabis for alcohol? If not, then what’s the mitigating factor?

      Any ideas, Dan?

      • lucecruz said,

        February 6, 2014 at 12:53 pm

        The current procedure of using a Field Sobriety Test (FST) should be the standard of whether a driver should be allowed to continue driving if stopped for poor vehicle control. If you can’t pass an FST, you shouldn’t be driving. If the officer has evidence that the impairment is due to an intoxicating substance, then you should be tested to discover what the substance is, and prosecuted accordingly. If you are tired and cannot drive safely, there should be a way to prevent that person from driving further, but that would be a very sticky constitutional problem.

        This is how it is done now. There just aren’t enough highly trained Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) to get impaired drivers off the road. Apparently, it isn’t important enough to take a huge bite out of road fatalities by stopping and removing impaired drivers.

        Whether impaired by an intoxicating substance or otherwise, everything effects driving ability in different ways for different people. Police officers observing, documenting, testing, and being really damn good at it, is the only real answer we have at this time. The FST is the best way to judge if an individual is impaired. If they can’t pass an FST, they should be walking from that point on. Anything further than that is up to the legislature and local prosecutors.

        As far as the bar that served them, etc., the individual should be held responsible for their own actions, period. Period. the bar is there, but no one that works there makes anyone bend their elbow. But, individual responsibility isn’t very popular right now.

        As for any other answers, they aren’t as important to me as my ability to safely travel on the roads. I just hope that if DUII laws are strengthened, and officer staffing and training levels are increased, it doesn’t mean more Draconian conditions for those of us that aren’t driving around impaired.

  2. capndrift said,

    February 6, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Okay, you don’t want impaired people operating motor vehicles. Roger that. Do you have anything of substance to comment on relating to the post?

    I get you don’t think trading drunk drivers for stoned drivers is a good thing. I get there are a lot of variables to account for the 9% reduction in fatalities.

    But, simply stating loaded people shouldn’t drive doesn’t really speak to the study (shrug).

  3. lucecruz said,

    February 6, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    My response to the study is that there isn’t enough evidence that using cannabis is an alternative to alcohol if we want safe roads. Pleading the roads will be safe*r* isn’t good enough for me, but I ain’t in charge around here. Only time will tell what the real trend will be for road safety as marijuana becomes more accepted.

    Sorry if that isn’t what you’re looking for.

    Next month, there will be a study that says the opposite of the study put out this month. It helps educators make money.

    • capndrift said,

      February 6, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      “My response to the study is that there isn’t enough evidence that using cannabis is an alternative to alcohol if we want safe roads.”

      Who is advocating operating a car or bike while under the influence of anything? If the answer is, “No one,” then your sentence above is sort of non sequitur.

      All the study tells us is both alcohol sales and fatal car crashes are less in states with, rather than those without, medicinal cannabis laws. They go out on a limb and ask if cannabis is being substituted for booze, and if so, are the impairments different enough to be statistically significant.

      I think that’s pretty much all 9% of it.
      The study raises questions. That’s all. That’s the way I see it.

      They are reasonable questions. And I’m sure the researchers’ methods and results will be questioned. I certainly hope so. That’s the way ‘science’ works.

      Again, no one is saying driving drunk is bad, but driving stoned is okay. Or are you seeing something I’ve missed?

      • lucecruz said,

        February 6, 2014 at 3:57 pm

        I didn’t read the entire study. I apologize if not disclosing this makes you feel like you were mislead.

        I am very tired of the recreational pro-pot crowd telling people that pot is better than alcohol in a situation were the drivers are DUII. I guess my prejudice is showing in this regard, as I have difficulty seeing past this one part of the issue. safe*r*, and safe*st* are two different things. I don’t want less intoxicated folks on the road, I want zero intoxicated folks on the road. It seems you and I have no trouble agreeing on this.

        Pro pot folks, whether medicinal or recreational, need to stop pulling the same smoke and mirrors political crap that has kept pot illegal for so long, and be willing to be a completely fresh breath of air in the arena of winning people over. I am sick of choking on the lies and misconceptions, and want to only the sweet smell of facts, truth, and personal responsibility (Another pun. Not bad, eh?)

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