CBS News Caught Blatantly Distorting Cannabis Study, Says Legal Pot Doubles Fatal Car Crashes

CBS not only failed to mention how statistically minuscule the doubling of cannabis-related fatal crashes actually was, it also inexplicably — and inexcusably — left out that most of those drivers had consumed other substances.
By @Subversive_Pen |
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    In what could only be described as a desperate smear campaign evidencing the last vestiges of propaganda from the failed war on drugs, corporate media warped the findings of a study about cannabis-related car crashes to the point of being unrecognizable.

    On Tuesday, AAA’s safety foundation released a report concerning cannabis impairment and driving, which proved blood testing drivers for THC holds no scientific validity and should be abandoned. But a second part of the report found that — strictly statistically speaking — car crashes involving drivers who had consumed cannabis were on the rise.

    In fact, the number of people involved in fatal crashes who tested positive for cannabis did rise — a statistical doubling — but several caveats that should have also been reported by the mainstream press were flatly ignored.

    First, and of no small importance, cannabis isn’t even close to the leading cause of fatal crashes. In fact, when it comes to deadly accidents where the driver tested positive for cannabis, “most” had also consumed alcohol or other drugs.

    According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, of 592 drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2013, 38 tested positive for cannabis. In the following year, of 619 deadly crashes, the number testing positive for cannabis jumped to 75. However, as Staci Hoff, Research Director for WTSC,explained:

    “Most of these drivers, these 75 drivers, also had alcohol or other drugs” in their systems. Over a five-year period, just 1.8 percent of fatal crashes involved drivers who tested positive only for cannabis.

    “So, in our study, we looked at all five years of date, 2010 to 2014,” Hoff continued, “and there were never 3,000 drivers involved in these fatal crashes during that time period. Only 56 of them had THC and only THC, nothing else.”

    WTSC is indeed concerned about drivers who consume cannabis — when they also consume alcohol. So though the number of fatal cannabis-involved deadly accidents did, indeed, double, the number represents a tiny proportion of the total and most of those drivers had consumed other substances.

    “There’s still a lot of work to do to figure out the impact of marijuana as a substance alone,” Hoff added, “but what I can say is that the combo of alcohol and marijuana is a scary concept we are seeing; it’s where our largest concern lays right now.”

    But if you rely on corporate media for information about the same report, your perception of cannabis-related traffic fatalities would be entirely different.

    CBS News’ national report on this same information proves how the misrepresentation of data can irresponsibly warp facts to bordering on outright misinformation — Report: Fatal marijuana-related crashes up where drug is legal. Though the headline could easily be redeemed through accurate information, the CBS article immediately capitalizes on people’s worst fears by beginning with an anecdotal account of a fatal accident involving a cannabis-impaired driver.

    At a time when policy-makers and the American public consider ending cannabis prohibition— a massively-failed policy whose biggest benefactor has arguably been the for-profit prisonindustry — such feckless reporting reduces the opportunity for worthy debate on the subject.

    CBS not only failed to mention how statistically minuscule the doubling of cannabis-related fatal crashes actually was, it also inexplicably — and inexcusably — left out that most of those drivers had consumed other substances. Worst of all, the CBS News article ends with the factual statement, “More than a dozen states are considering legalizing marijuana” — implying to readers, ‘look out, if you don’t stop this legislation, wantonly reckless weed-smoking drivers will be coming to your city.’

    Of course, this simply isn’t the case, and the study the article was supposedly reporting about proves that — but CBS News’ audience would never know that if they were relying on the single source. And that is what makes propaganda so effective — its ability to distort facts to stoke baseless fear for other ends. Fortunately, such capricious and questionable media tactics are being exposed as more people turn to independent sources for good information otherwise obscured from public discussion.

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    • Lon LeVine

      Do not forget that CBS gets a huge amount of advertising from big pharma. Big pharma has a huge (got to love that word) vested interest in preventing folk from self treating with herb instead of using their expensive pills. Think that is a coincidence?

    • iheartjon

      I asked this exact question when I saw this…What else where they on? Oops the writer forgot to mention that…Marijuana is a goddamn miracle and these bastards (The Media) are still spewing propaganda to the public.. I need to smoke to keep the nausea at bay after these hit pieces.. I don’t recommend driving while stoned but honestly it’s not as debilitating as alcohol. It’s quite the opposite. I’ve seen professional athletes completely push their sport high on weed and myself as a non-professional seem to perform the same or maybe a little better on it. Certainly it’s not debilitating.. Again when used lightly in it’s proper time and place it’s a miracle herb that has the power to heal and inspire.

    • Jim Greer

      Come on ADRobert chime in with your bullshit

    • Jim Greer

      Those same people who tested positive for Cannabis also tested positive for wheat, I guess bread is causing accidents.

    • Heather James

      Watch TV. What are a large percentage of the commercials for? That’s right, pharmaceuticals. Pharma companies lose hugely when weed is legal. Pharma companies pay the dinosaur media’s bills. Therefore, expect the alphabet soup media to make weed look as terrible as possible to please its keepers. On the other hand, the average viewer for any of those channels is a senior citizen. They are dying, and there is nothing they can do about it.

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    • California NORML

      Good story! Add to this: the number of fatal crashes in Washington increased only slightly, from 401 to 429, between 2013 and 2014, according to FARS data. And 2013 had a low number of fatal crashes, compared to 2012 (409) and 2011 (421).

      Also, the AAA study cited here acknowledges that the “recent” marijuana use detected in crash victims in Washington could have happened a week earlier, and that “the data available cannot be used to assess whether a given driver was actually impaired, and examination of fault in individual crashes was beyond the scope of this study.” The increase could simply have been a result of increased prevalence of use.

    • Sean Hussey

      There was a similar series of articles on Solar power in California about a month or two ago. First there was an article saying solar power plants would overwhelm the grid, causing parts of it to short out. I thought to myself, “Don’t they have something to adjust how much power goes into the grid from the solar panels to protect from overloading the grid?” Then, lo and behold, another article comes out saying the first article was being put out by the oil and gas power companies.

      When the CBS pot article was published I had a hard time believing using pot leads to crashes. If you are too stoned, how would you even press on the gas pedal? And if you are just a little stoned, wouldn’t the effects make you pay more attention? Let’s be clear marijuana doesn’t make you black out like alcohol. It affects your short term memory during the high so you don’t remember what you did ten minutes ago as well as someone whose not, but are clearly aware of the current moment.

      Then I wondered if they were confusing having marijuana in your system versus whether you were actually so high you would be dangerous, which I don’t believe is even possible. Anytime I’ve seen someone driving by with a cloud of pot smoke coming out of their car, they were driving very slowly. If driving slowly is dangerous, then why aren’t they requiring people to drive high. Unfortunately for me I don’t smoke, so I would prefer this restriction doesn’t come to pass.

      I was not surprised to see this article lambasting the other article or two trying to convince people marijuana causes crashes. Realistically, the only way I would believe it is if they setup a double blind experiment on a closed course testing 1000 drivers using marijuana, coffee, a placebo, alcohol, and nothing. This would make for an entertaining YouTube video, and put to rest this believe marijuana makes you jump the gun in any way.

      • Informed

        never happen the article was written to push the agenda of insurance companies and the govermnet

    • ’46 one time hippy

      CBS lies. #CSBLIES

    • Helga Fellay

      I saw that last night and was shocked at this obvious anti-legalization propaganda piece. CBS is everyday becoming more like Fox and CNN – purely a right-wing propaganda tool. The White House no longer uses the word “News” in association with Fox. I would suggest they also eliminate the “News” component with CBS or any of our MSM for that matter.

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