Cannabis has been legalized for most Coloradans — but not for a still-oppressed minority: law enforcement officers. Since they're drug tested for it, they don't know what cannabis does. Which hurts all of us, man.
For example: thousands of cases of driving under the influence are prosecuted every year. Hundreds of those are for marijuana.
Which is fine, whatever. No one is saying you should be allowed to drive as high as you want. But some of the official rationale behind stoned driving prosecutions is bizarre.
For instance: Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Day thinks stoned driving is concerning because … wait for it … it impairs short-term memory. He spoke with the Longmont Times-Call.
(Day) said a driver might observe a stop sign or a crossing cyclist, to which they need to react, and then forget to react.
Now, I don’t know what kind of time dilation these hypothetical stoned drivers are experiencing that they would look at a cyclist crossing in front of them and then forget to apply the brake. To remember to fiddle with the radio, maybe, or adjust their pants — but totally forget not to plow right into other human beings.
Another flawed argument comes from CDOT. In a FAQ about driving stoned, they say that marijuana affects your ability to drive because “you cannot judge your own level of impairment.”
Whoever wrote that should’ve come to the 2014 Cannabis Cup with me, back when they were giving away free dab samples, and I accurately judged my own level of impairment as “unable to do anything except take a Lyft to Wendy’s to clean out their supply of Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers.”
The Boulder District Attorney prosecuted 1,887 cases of driving under the influence last year. It's impossible to know how many of those were for cannabis, because, crazily, Colorado doesn’t separate out its cases by type of substance involved.
In terms of punishment, too, marijuana isn’t well distinguished from alcohol or even meth or PCP.
Which is fucking crazy. It’s the same mistake the War on Drugs makes. Cannabis is not crack; LSD is not a date-rape drug.
Listen, my brothers and sisters: you shouldn’t drive after taking six bong rips for many, many reasons — because it’s more pleasant to walk or ride a bike, because hotboxing the Hop is fun, because climate change, traffic, congestion, etc.
But if you do drive stoned and get caught, you shouldn’t be punished as severely as a drunk driver is.
In terms of messing with your ability to drive, cannabis is not alcohol. It just isn’t.
A 2015 study commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found cannabis, by itself, caused no "significant increased risk of crash involvement.”
In Colorado, fatalities attributed to driving while high on narcotics is dropping, despite the state being awash in legal weed.
And semi-scientific studies show that marijuana drivers aren't reckless. If anything, they're overly cautious, as shown by one of my favorite all-time news stories, featuring one of my favorite all-time stoners, Addy:
You drive slowly and badly on weed (unless you're Addy). But slowly and badly isn't as dangerous as fast and badly, which is what alcohol has you do.
Long story short, don't drive impared, ever. But we can't treat these two things the same, because they're not. Case closed.
Imagine if law enforcement — from beat cops to district attorneys up to the head of the DEA — was allowed to vape some kush on the weekend and realize this. What a wonderful world this would be.