Here is a link to an NBC story with the headline above.

A collection of cannabis leaves

Another epidemic of cannabis deaths made up for the mainstream media.

At first I couldn’t bring myself to read this because I assumed it was propaganda, and was too angry to want to waste my time.  So I emailed FDL the link and am hoping Jon Walker might take a look at it and provide some feedback.  But I eventually brought myself to read it and here’s my reaction.

Yes it is indeed propaganda.  This is the evidence that’s used to justify the headline:

As medical marijuana sales expanded into 20 states, legal weed was detected in the bodies of dead drivers three times more often during 2010 when compared to those who died behind the wheel in 1999, according to a new study from Columbia University published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

specifically

Cannabinol, a remnant of marijuana, was found in 12.2 percent of those deceased drivers during 2010, (up from 4.2 percent in 1999). Pot was the most common non-alcoholic drug detected by those toxicology screenings.

That’s right, because marijuana was detected in more dead drivers, pot is leading to a surge in drugged driving deaths. Now clicking on their link to the study requires one to be a subscriber or pay a price, neither of which I was willing to do. But I’ve got to wonder if the study itself came to such a conclusion. Because if it did, it either has more evidence than was cited here or those conducting the study had an agenda.

Pot can be detected in the blood for days, perhaps even weeks, after one uses it. So the only thing the evidence cited above might show is that pot use has climbed dramatically since 1999.  Which makes some sense since it’s now been legalized in one way or another in many, many states. But there isn’t anything, at least in the data cited in the article, that would show that any more or any less drivers are under the influence of marijuana while driving. It merely shows that within days or weeks of their deaths, more people had used marijuana.

And from that we get “Pot Fuels Surge in Drugged Driving Deaths.”

Our propaganda machine at work once again.

UPDATE:

I’ve thought about this some more, and the more I think about it, the more blatant a hit piece this becomes. It’s bad enough that from a study that suggests more dead drivers had used pot within the past week or two we get “Pot Fuels Surge in Drugged Driving Deaths.” But upon reflection it seems so much worse. For example, nowhere is there any attempt to place fault. Were all of these “drugged” drivers the ones at fault in the fatal accidents, or were they merely driving home from the Taco Bell at 25MPH when a drunk driver travelling 125MP plowed over them?? We don’t know, nor does Briggs (the author of this “yellow journalism” h/t Crane Station).

Briggs also doesn’t consider any rise or fall in accidents/deaths overall. If three times as many dead drivers were detected with pot in their blood and the number of fatal accidents overall in that area had doubled or tripled, perhaps it would be something to consider. If, on the other hand, the number of fatal accidents were the same or had dropped, then this would be an indication (not proof, more study would be needed) that having weed in your system has no effect on the rate of fatal accidents since more people were detected with weed but the number of accedents remained the same or dropped.  But again, Briggs doesn’t offer that information, and I’ve got to believe it’s because it’s not in the study to offer.

For example, if I were a betting person, I’d wager a great deal of money that coffee is consumed far more often in the AM hours than the PM hours. So if we studied the blood of all the dead drivers in the AM hours versus the PM hours, I’d bet an equal amount of money we’d find coffee prevalent in far more of them in the AM hours. So from that, Briggs would determine “Caffeine Fuels Surge in Drugged Driving Deaths in the Mornings” and we could all sing around the campfire as we ban caffeine. Does anyone here doubt that more dead drivers in the AM have caffeine in their blood than dead drivers in the PM??? I think we should all ask Briggs why no articles with the sensational headline about caffeine causing deaths in America.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here. This piece was such a travesty that Briggs should actually be censored in some way. It is that dishonest. But no, I won’t hold my breath for that, as if I indeed were a betting man, I’d bet all I own that he was merely doing as told. We’re being propagandized.

Photo by Matthew Kenwrick released under a Creative Commons No Derivatives license.