August 12, 2016
Buried in a trove of emails from the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, and mysteriously obtained by WikiLeaks, was an email newsletter sent to political insiders that contained something interesting: a paid advertisement from the alcohol industry.
Ordinarily that would not be odd, and it certainly isn’t the biggest news to come out of the trove of dumped DNC/Clinton emails. But it could have significant social and healthcare implications.
In the May 24, 2016, edition of Huddle, a daily newsletter from Politico, there was an ad from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America that is little more than fear-mongering aimed at political leaders who may be leaning towards marijuana legalization.
“A message from Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America: While neutral on the issue of legalization, WSWA believes states that legalize marijuana need to ensure appropriate and effective regulations are enacted to protect the public from the dangers associated with the abuse and misuse of marijuana,” the ad begins.
Continuing, the ad notes that 23 states as well as the District of Columbia currently have legislation on the books legalizing marijuana use for medicinal purposes. The ad also acknowledges that Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington, D.C., have legalized the drug for recreational use as well.
But the WSWA goes on to state that, in the years since Colorado passed its legislation, law enforcement officials in the state have allegedly recorded higher-than-average traffic fatalities involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana use.
Because of that lone state statistic, the WSWA is encouraging Congress to fully fund Section 4008 of the FAST Act in the upcoming fiscal year’s budget, “to document the prevalence of marijuana impaired driving,” while also determining standards and ways to detect impairment due to pot consumption.
And even that statistic is skewed. As reported by The Daily Sheeple, a May report from AAA’s safety foundation concerning alcohol and cannabis driving impairment found that blood-testing drivers for THC – a primary ingredient in pot – has no scientific significance or validity, meaning that such testing is ineffective at measuring pot-induced impairment.
Though the number of people who were involved in fatal car crashes and who tested positive for cannabis did actually rise – a doubling, The Daily Sheeple noted – there are a number of caveats to the stat that were ignored by the rest of the media and the WSWA, likely for political reasons.
For one, cannabis is not close to being one of the leading causes of automobile fatalities, according to a recent analysis by the Auto Insurance Center, a news and information site.
In addition, when deadly accidents involving cannabis were recorded, “most” drivers had also consumed other drugs or alcohol. The Washington Traffic Safety Commission noted recently that of 592 drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes in 2013, just 38 tested positive for cannabis. The following year, drivers in 75 out of 619 deadly crashes tested positive. But, as Staci Hoff, the commission’s research director noted, most of the 75 drivers “also had alcohol or other drugs” in their systems.
As reported by Marijuana.com, Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, on its website, called marijuana legalization a “key issue,” and stated that – while claiming not to have taken a position one way or another – the organization is concerned that legalization will lead to widespread “illicit and unregulated activity akin to that which occurred” when the constitutional prohibition on alcohol was repealed in the 1930s.
Critics of the WSWA’s effort to convince lawmakers to take a wary approach to full cannabis legalization say that the organization should not only be more concerned with combating drunk driving, but that it may be acting in its members’ own interests in preventing pot legalization, because it could mean a loss of revenue.
And finally, others point out that driving under the influence of marijuana is already illegal in the states. What’s needed, they say, is an effective test for impairment, as with alcohol – not one where data can be manipulated for political purposes.
Sources for this story include: