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What Naysayers Don’t Understand About Marijuana

October 26, 2010

ABC News aired a story about driving under the influence of marijuana. They took a reporter who had never smoked pot before, got him stoned and put him behind the wheel on an obstacle course. He didn’t do very well, but maybe he’s a lousy driver anyway. ABC should be ashamed for airing such tripe that just feeds the irrational fears that the naysayers of legalization already have.
First of all, legalizing the use of marijuana does not make driving under the influence legal. The same rules that apply to driving while drunk also apply to driving while incapacitated on any other drug. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean that everyone is going to get stoned and hit the freeway.

Second, it was supposedly the reporter’s first experience with pot. He had no idea what to expect from it and, not having any tolerance to it, must have been stoned to the bone. Instead of being able to enjoy his first high, he was forced to endure the hassle of driving. This is not a normal circumstance.

Third, some people don’t tolerate pot well and don’t like the high it gives them. If he was one of these people, that would have compounded his driving difficulties.

Fourth, this is what straight and sober people don’t understand: The more you use most drugs, the easier it is to function while high. You become used to the effects. You build up a tolerance and it takes an inordinate amount of whatever drug to get you beyond mildly high to dysfunctional.

The only time heroin addicts are normal is when they are high. Between highs, they get nutty because of the physical craving for that next fix. Cocaine addicts never get the same rush that they got the first time, so they keep doing more and more to try to recapture that first high… but they function quite nicely. I even knew an alcoholic that, other than slurring her speech, functioned quite well in life and even behind the wheel. She never had a wreck or a ticket until one day when a sober woman pulled out in front of her and ran her off the road. My friend was arrested, lost her license, and eventually died of liver failure.

I digress, but the point is that there is a big difference in being high and being incapacitated. For some people, being high is the norm and they can’t function as well otherwise. The roads are full of people under the influence of some prescription drug or other and, for the most part, we all get where we’re going safely. ABC should apologize to all the responsible users of marijuana by airing this other side of the story.

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