‘Comprehensive’ Government Study Claims Weed Is Just As Impairing As Booze

The National Institute on Drug Abuse just released what they are calling a first-of-its-kind “comprehensive study“, testing the effects of marijuana vs. alcohol . Only they’re full of crap, and nothing about this study is comprehensive at all. The study tested how marijuana affects a person’s driving performance and sought to compare it against the effect alcohol has on driving, and the N.I.D.A. is calling this a “comprehensive study”, even though there were only 18 participants in the entire damn study. You don’t have to work in a lab to know that for a study to be considered sound, and comprehensive it needs a hell of a lot more participants than just 18.

ABC 7 reports:

A first-of-its-kind study by researchers at the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that marijuana use impairs a person’s driving performance.
“One of the things we know happens with cannabis is that it reduces your field of vision and you get tunnel vision, so you’re unable to react as quickly,” said Marilyn Huestis of the NIDA.
The study recruited 18 occasional cannabis smokers — 13 of them men between 21 and 37 years old. The participants took six 45-minute drives in the National Advanced Driving Simulator, the most sophisticated driving simulator of its kind, and a different combination of high or low concentration THC, alcohol and placebos were tested in each drive.
The study found that combining cannabis with alcohol impairs drivers more than consuming just one or the other.
“Driving is a very complex task and this is why cannabis, both alone and with alcohol, is so dangerous to drive,” Huestis said.

Now I don’t for a second doubt that marijuana isn’t as debilitating on a driver as alcohol, but for a governmental organization to conduct a study, publish it, and refer to it as ‘comprehensive’ with only 18 participants is completely POPPYCOCK. If the scientists tasked with conducting scientific experiments cannot even recognize good science from bad science, how in the hell are we ever supposed to progress the level of awareness for marijuana in this country?

The study can be found (and read) HERE.

TIME elaborates on just what was tested in this comprehensive driving study:

The researchers looked at 250 parameters of driving ability, but this paper focused on three in particular: weaving within the lane, the number of times the car left the lane, and the speed of the weaving. While alcohol had an effect on the number of times the car left the lane and the speed of the weaving, marijuana did not. Marijuana did show an increase in weaving. Drivers with blood concentrations of 13.1 ug/L THC, the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, showed increase weaving that was similar to those with a .08 breath alcohol concentration, the legal limit in most states. For reference, 13.1 ug/L THC is more than twice the 5 ug/L numeric limit in Washington and Colorado.

Dr. Marilyn Huestis, the principal investigator in the study, says it is important to note that the study looked at the concentration of THC in the driver’s system while they were driving. This is quite different from the concentration typically measured in a drugged driver out on the road, whose blood may not be checked until several hours after an arrest, allowing the THC level to drop considerably from the time they were driving.

The study also found that pot and alcohol have more of an impact on driving when used together. Drivers who used both weaved within lanes, even if their blood THC and alcohol concentrations were below the threshold for impairment taken on their own. “We know cannabis is primarily found with a low dose of alcohol,” Huestis says. “Many young people have a couple beers and then cannabis.”

Again, I don’t think any sane individual would argue that driving while under the influence of marijuana is a fantastic idea. But why in the hell would they take this study to the press when they only had 18 participants?! That’s shitty testing.

One thing ABC7 did note, and which is quite encouraging, is the following:

Researchers also revealed the first comprehensive analysis of medical marijuana’s potential benefits. Researchers found medical marijuana can help chronic pain and muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis, but there is weak evidence it helps with other conditions like anxiety, sleep disorders and Tourette’s syndrome.

One can only hope they used a little more than a baker’s dozen of participants to come to those conclusions…

I mean, listen up bros: I’m not a stoner. I very rarely smoke. Last year I went to the High Times Cannabis Cup in Denver (read about my ordeal here), and I tested quite a bit but when I came back to NYC I’ve rarely poked the smot. I prefer to drink, that’s just who I am. But I’m 100% pro-legalization nationwide, because it’s outrageous that we’re still living in an era of prohibition when weed has proven medical benefits, and is in fact less damaging to the human body than alcohol. So the reason a study like this bothers me so much is that you could run it with 5,000 participants and see drastically different results, and anti-marijuana crusaders would run this study into the ground.

As someone who desperately wants to see legalization nationwide I want to see it done the right way, by conducting sound studies, and not leaving cracks in the foundation of legalization…. /end rant