Imagine that title without the quotes around the word impairs – because that’s just how America’s most read newspaper had it written.

Seems pretty straightforward. Everyone knows you can’t drive effectively while high. Right?

Well if you don’t believe me you must believe The USA Today:

A recent study by the National Institutes of Health found no difference in the level of driving impairment between men and women under the influence of marijuana.

See? There is no difference between men and women – they are equally “impaired.”

There was no difference between the two sexes. In crash avoidance and basic driving, the stoned group also showed no difference in driving performance and performed as well as the group that received the placebo.

See? Wait, what? “The stoned group also showed no difference in driving performance and performed as well as the group that received the placebo.”

They try to sneak it in there among all the claptrap about how stoned men and stoned women are “impaired” the same. The real news in this story is that the “stoned” group didn’t drive “impaired” at all. So why go to all the trouble to avoid making that the thrust of the story?

A 1974 study found that marijuana impairs driving performance, but didn’t note whether men or women show big differences.

That must be it. Since the definitive study on this issue was done in 1974, I wonder why we even bother having more studies, or articles about those new studies. And to make sure they drove the point home that you should ignore paragraph 4 and move straight to paragraph 5, the article ends with this:

The stoned group drove slightly slower when distracted, suggesting they were using “additional compensatory skills,” the study says. Divided attention made the stoned drivers slow down and exhibit increased drowsiness.

So when they were distracted, the “stoned” drivers slowed down. I take that to mean the “non-stoned” group kept right on going when distracted. The placebo group didn’t bother with using “additional compensatory skills,” their distracted skills were just what the situation called for.

It’s bad enough we have to deal with anti-marijuana groups that will spin and shape things any way they can to discredit our movement – but when an entity like The USA Today will publish this kind of drivel and give it credence, it means we have an uphill battle indeed. It also means we just have to work even harder.

Joe Klare

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