The Legalization of Pot Just Got A Huge Helping Hand
For a long while, I’ve been on the fence (but decidedly leaning toward prohibition) regarding the legalization of nonprescription marijuana for casual, recreational use.
As long-tine readers will remember, I’ve long been a proponent of medical marijuana after having seen what the ravages of cancer treatment envelope both my father and mother. As a professional risk manager, however, the inability of police to test drivers for intoxication under the influence of pot has been a hurdle for me. Indeed, it’s been a huge hurdle.
I’d pick on legalization advocates’ cavalier dismissal of the road deaths that legalization was carrying within it’s Pandora’s box, but the truth is it’s not just them. As I’ve noted before, it’s a bizarre quirk of the American psyche that we are willing to suspend sacred freedoms when three thousand of our number meet an untimely death or hold mass protests around the country when a police officer unjustifiably takes just one, but just about any public policy that can eliminate large chunks of the quarter-million accidental vehicular deaths that occur each decade are treated with pretty near-universal derision. For conservatives who have been attempting to stem the tide of legalization, the lack of ability for police to test drivers — and for that matter, industrial employers to test at-work employees — has been by far their strongest argument.
It will be interesting to see what happens with the anti-pot crowd, therefore, now that researchers at the University of Akron have developed a device that can instantly and accurately detect levels of THC in the bloodstream.
Cynically, of course, I suspect this will change absolutely nothing. Conservatives who have been digging in their heels based on the “cops can’t protect against dangerous drivers” argument will reveal that their objections to pot never really had much to do with road safety so much as hippie punching; liberal and libertarian pro-pot advocates will pretend this is the news they have been waiting for, when the truth is they never really gave much of a s**t about it. As I’ve been saying a lot lately, all of our politically-charged litmus test issues have become almost entirely tribal, and all values-based arguments in their favor are just the tactics d’jour we’ll abandon tomorrow when they cease serving a strategic purpose.
Still, this week’s revelation by the University of Akron is really tremendous news, and will likely save more lives in states that legalize pot than we will ever know.
[Picture: THC molecule via Wikipedia]