We have asked to wilkes-barre car accident attorney what marijuana legalization did to car accident rates?
Last week, a pair of studies came to seemingly opposite conclusions on whether rising marijuana use is causing an increase in car crashes in states that have legalized the drug.
The first, conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzed insurance claims for vehicle collisions filed between January 2012 and October 2016. The IIHS researchers compared claims in states that had recently legalized marijuana (Colorado, Washington and Oregon) with claims in similar neighboring states that hadn’t.
They found that over that time period, collisions claim frequencies in the states that had legalized marijuana were about 3 percent higher than would have been anticipated without legalization. The researchers characterized that number as small, but significant. Collision claim frequency refers to the number of claims filed divided by the number of insured vehicle years.
“The combined-state analysis shows that the first three states to legalize recreational marijuana have experienced more crashes,” said Matt Moore, senior vice president of the IIHS’s Highway Loss Data Institute, in a statement.
But hot on the heels of that analysis came a second study, published in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), that found no increase in vehicle crash fatalities in Colorado and Washington, relative to similar states, after legalization.
The authors of that study analyzed federal data on fatal car crashes from 2009 to 2015. “We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle crash fatality rates in the first 3 years after recreational marijuana legalization,” they concluded.
On the one hand, a finding that legalization led to a small but significant increase in crashes. On the other, a study concluding that legalization had no effect on fatal crashes at all. Do the two contradict each other?
Not necessarily. The studies measured slightly different things: IIHS looked at claims for motor vehicle collisions, while the AJPH report focused more specifically on fatal crashes. It seems plausible that legalization could lead to a slight increase in minor accidents that don’t prove fatal.
Indeed, federal research has shown that while smoking weed before driving does indeed elevate your risk of crash, it’s nonetheless far less impairing than alcohol, which dramatically increases the likelihood of a crash even at small doses.
Beyond that, the two studies used different baselines for comparison. The IIHS report compared legalization states to their neighbors. The AJPH study, on the other hand, chose comparison states not based on geography but on other shared characteristics: traffic patterns, makeup of roadways and population.
Both approaches have their strengths. But in the end, it’s hardly surprising that choosing different comparison states will yield slightly different results on similar measures.
Any increase in car crashes is cause for concern. But on balance, public health experts worry more about fatal crashes than nonfatal ones, for obvious reasons. The AJPH study is heartening news on that front, and it comes on the heels of previous research showing that medical marijuana laws are also not associated with increased vehicle fatalities, and may in fact lead to fewer traffic deaths.
2. Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Police Arrest Patient For Possessing Medicinal Cannabis: An Interview with MCUA’s Deb Lynch
However, there’s so much red tape surrounding accessing the imported medicine that by the end of Mayt here were reports the products were simply sitting in warehouses in capital cities.
For a patient to obtain the imported products they have to see an authorised prescriber, of which there’s only 25 in the country and they’re not allowed advertise. Or there’s the other option of acquiring it via the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Special Access Scheme (SAS) Category B, which is a very lengthy process.
A Greens motion passed through the federal Senate two weeks ago that allows terminally ill patients to access the medicine via the SAS Category A pathway, which is a much faster process. But, due to regulations these patients aren’t allowed to access the imported products in the warehouses.
The Turnbull government passed legislation in February last year, allowing for the legal cultivation, manufacture and distribution of medical marijuana. But despite the licences that began being issued to businesses in February this year, there’s still no legal homegrown product available.
“While it is technically legal to avail yourself of cannabis medicine, it is practically impossible,” renowned ANU medical lecturer Dr David Caldicott told Guardian Australia last week.
Sydney Criminal Lawyers spoke with secretary of the MCUA Deb Lynch about being arrested for the medicine that she needs, the outrage medicinal cannabis advocates are feeling and the government’s constant prioritising of the interests of business over those of patients.
Firstly, Deb you’ve just been to the police station where you had your photo and fingerprints taken, all because you were found in possession of a plant that you use to treat your illness with.
How do you feel about that?
Angry. They had no right to take my medicine.
Mainstream medications weren’t working. The doctors know that. All of my specialists are well aware. And I have reports substantiating that they all know and are supportive that I use cannabis and it’s actually working for my conditions, where their treatments weren’t.
Last Monday evening, police arrested you for possession of cannabis. What actually happened at the time?
They came here on another matter, and they found my own medicine. No one else’s, just my own medicine. And oils that I’d made up for the next three months.
What have you been charged with?
Producing a dangerous drug. Possession of a dangerous drug. Possession of utensils and possession of implements to make dangerous drugs. I haven’t got the official charge sheet yet. But that’s the piece of paper they gave me on the evening.
So from here what’s next for you? When do you have to appear in court?
I have to appear in court on July 19.
And what could you be facing?
As far as I know, 10 years gaol.
At present, there’s tens of thousands of Australians out there using medicinal cannabis to treat their illnesses. The federal government legalised cannabis medicines last year to make them available to the public. But very few people who need them can actually get them.
What options do most patients in this country who use medicinal cannabis, or need to use it, actually have?
No options. Particularly, the people who are already treating themselves, and know the specific strains that are working for them.
The first thing we desperately need are testing facilities. None of the people can get their oil tested, in order to have their prescriptions written. That’s my problem.
I have a doctor that’s prepared to write me a prescription. However, until I can get the oil tested, and get the ratios and levels of what all the cannabinoids and terpenes are, I can’t even get a prescription written.
But, if you could get it tested, and you were able to get a prescription from the doctor, you’d be able to access imported products, is that correct?
Yes, but then we get to the next problem. I’ve already checked with every available supplier in Canada. They only carry one of the four strains that I require. So I couldn’t even import the medications, even if I could afford them, which I can’t.
There’s a long list of people who’ve been arrested for possessing medical marijuana recently. This is a plant that’s now legal for recreational use in eight US states.
How many Australians are actually being arrested for possession of cannabis that’s just being used to treat illnesses? And how long do you think this can go on for?
There are many people we don’t even know about that are being arrested. Because many people are too embarrassed to admit it, or afraid to bring more attention to themselves. And this is going to continue until we get the laws right.
I told Bill Turner (head of the Office of Drug Control) that on paper, in theory, what they’re drawing up, they believe it’s going to work. But in the practical application it is unworkable for patients. There is no way we can even use it.
What do you think the position of the police is on medicinal cannabis?
I spoke to the police about contacting their union, because it’s about time they stood up and said that this is wrong.
They told me that it was up to us to get the laws changed and that they are only following instructions. They didn’t say that they were supportive, but they also didn’t say that they were against it.
They said that they understood, but the law was the law. And we had to get the laws changed.
Over the weekend, you attended the 2017 United in Compassion Medicinal Cannabis Symposium.
I did and I also did the Medical Cannabis course. I’m now a member of the Australian Society of Cannabis Clinicians, as well as the American Society of Cannabis Clinicians. I’ve already done a course with them two years ago.
So that was the course on Thursday that was run by Dr David Caldicott?
Can you elaborate on what your qualifications provide you with?
Basically, if I was in America, I could treat patients.
And how was the symposium itself over the weekend?
It was pretty good. There was some misinformation, but I think it’s more of a case that the doctors haven’t caught up with what the patients know yet.
At the symposium there were a lot of prominent politicians. You had the leader of the Australian Labor party Bill Shorten. Victorian minister for health Jill Hennessy was there. And NSW Labor MP Adam Searle was also in attendance.
These prominent politicians were all there to discuss the benefits cannabis medicines, and the need to make them more accessible. However, just days prior you’d been arrested for having the plant products in your own home.
What was the reaction like of people at the symposium to your plight?
The cannabis community is angry about it. We’re fed up. They’re picking off one supplier, or oil maker, or healer after another in every state.
We have Margeaux Drum and Tim Markham in Western Australia. Jenny Hallam and Mark Rayner in South Australia. We have Ubuntu in NSW and me in Queensland. This is becoming a national problem, because it’s happening in one state after another.
It’s alright for the federal government to say it’s legal. But the state governments are the ones who are enforcing the drug laws and they’re still picking us off one by one.
Do you think there’s a bit of crackdown at the moment?
I wouldn’t say there’s a crackdown. But I would say that they want us all gone.
And why do they want you gone?
So that they can have sole control over it.
They want this as a pharmaceutical product run through pharmaceutical companies, to pharmaceutical standards, instead of it being the cottage industry that it really needs to be, because patients need personalised tailored specific strains in their treatments.
Can I ask this question? Medicinal cannabis has come to the forefront of public attention over the last five or so years. But when it wasn’t mainstream public knowledge, how long have patients actually been using cannabis medicines?
I’ve been using it since 1988.
Really? That long? So there have been people out there using cannabis medicinally for decades now.
Decades. Decades without a problem.
Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced last week that he will be producing legislation to make it easier for patients to access Australian-made medicinal cannabis.
What do you think about this development?
Like all the politicians’ bills, we’ll have to see what’s in it and what the regulations say. Because they say one thing and they actually do another.
And lastly, Deb, people have been debating medicinal cannabis for years now. There’s been law reform around it. And yet despite all this, most patients still can’t access the product and people like you, who are providing for themselves, are criminalised for it.
In your opinion, what do you think needs to happen moving forward?
Number one, they need to start talking to the patients. They’ve never spoken to any patient group to see what we actually need. We’re the consumers in this.
But their marketing strategies are not directed at what we need. It’s at what they can see will make them and big business money in the long run.
I pointed out to Bill Turner that I was at the cultivators meeting in Melbourne twelve months ago, when he spoke. And he said there that the government’s main priorities are their international reputation, and the future export markets.
It’s got nothing to do with patients. And patients are the ones this should be about.
Deb, thanks very much for taking the time out to speak with us today. And best of luck with your pending legal proceedings.
You’re welcome. Thanks mate.
3. The Free Thought Project: American Media Silent After UN Just Called for Decriminalizing Drug Use Worldwide
A little-noticed public statement issued by the United Nations last week contains a dramatic shift in thinking on the issue of “illicit” substance use. After recommitting to the failed idea of prohibition just last year, the UN is now calling for the worldwide decriminalization of drug use and possession.
The statement, put out by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the U.S. is in the midst of a nonsensical debate over health care, calls for “ending discrimination in health care settings.” The WHO calls on states to end discrimination against “marginalized and stigmatized populations” in a variety of ways, and includes a blunt and rather shocking statement on the drug war.
“We, the signatory United Nations entities, call upon all stakeholders to join us in committing to taking targeted, coordinated, time-bound, multisectoral actions in the following areas. Supporting States to put in place guarantees against discrimination in law, policies, and regulations by… Reviewing and repealing punitive laws that have been proven to have negative health outcomes and that counter established public health evidence. These include laws that criminalize or otherwise prohibit…drug use or possession of drugs for personal use.”
This is an admission that the problem of drug abuse is a public health issue, not a criminal justice issue. Locking people in cages for the victimless behavior of ingesting substances arbitrarily deemed illegal by the State does nothing to reduce drug use or supply, as evidenced by the utter failure of the War on Drugs.
Prohibition has also denied people the miraculous healing powers of cannabis. For decades medical research of cannabis was stifled by a drug war borne of racism and political suppression. But research has increased exponentially in recent years as governments around the world take steps to decriminalize this medicinal plant, notably among states in the U.S.
With this awakening have come amazing stories of healing through cannabis, such as stopping seizures in children with debilitating epilepsy, treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans where all other treatments have failed, and healing a host of other illnesses without the dangerous side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
In terms of health care, prohibition is truly discriminatory, and the drug war only degrades public health.
Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001 and it has been a resounding success. Drug usage rates, addiction rates, overdose deaths and sexually transmitted diseases have all declined.
The WHO statement is also notable because it contradicts the UN’s reaffirmed support of prohibition during their 2016 “special session on drugs.” The special session was the first to be held in almost two decades, and many were expecting a softened approach from the failed war on drugs.
Despite the pleas of countries like Mexico—suffering from horrendous black market drug violence—to “move beyond prohibition,” a prohibition framework remained in place. In the UN’s 1998 ‘special session on drugs’ the world body agreed to work toward a “drug free world” by 2008. The sheer lunacy of this position is blatantly obvious now more than ever. Despite decades of prohibition and trillions of dollars spent, drugs remain easily accessible.
The WHO statement comes at a time when the U.S. drug war is in a pivotal moment. More and more U.S. states are decriminalizing cannabis at both the medicinal and recreational level, putting themselves at odds with the ongoing federal prohibition of cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a well-known rabid prohibitionist, is taking steps to ramp up the drug war, calling for increased police measures and prison sentences—even though this approach is proven as a failure.
There is little hope that Sessions and other drug warriors around the world—such as Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte who is now having his police forces murder drug users on the spot (with the explicit blessing of Trump)—will pay any attention to the WHO call for decriminalization.
Nevertheless, the WHO statement is an encouraging sign that the tide has turned against prohibition. As the drug war is dismantled piece by piece—in Portugal, U.S. states, Mexico (which recently legalized medical cannabis) and Canada (soon to legalize recreational cannabis)—the wisdom of ending prohibition will become ever more obvious.