Cannabis-Impaired Driving Should Be a Traffic Ticket — Not a Crime: Expert

Article by Solomon Israel, The Leaf News

Marijuana Sobriety Test Cannabis-impaired driving should be a traffic ticket — not a crime: expert Canada's laws mirror those for alcohol-impaired driving. Mark Kleiman says that's bad public policy By: Solomon Israel Mark Kleiman is a professor of public policy at New York University. (Supplied) The amount of alcohol in a driver's blood can be quickly and accurately measured with a breathalyzer device. No such test is available for measuring cannabis impairment. (Rich Pedroncelli/The Associated Press) Canada's new cannabis-impaired driving law mirrors the legal approach to alcohol-impaired driving. (Bill Alkofer/The Orange County Register files) In this Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016 photo, Fullerton police officer Jae Song conducts a field sobriety test on driver suspected of driving while impaired by marijuana in Fullerton, Calif. One of the symptoms is measured by watching the subject's eyes while he follows the movement of the pen. The Fullerton Police department is the leader in California in the Drug Recognition Expert program. (Bill Alkofer/The Orange County Register/SCNG via AP)

Should driving while stoned be a crime, or just a ticketable offence?

For the vast majority of the public, the answer is a no-brainer: of course driving under the influence of marijuana should be a criminal offence, just like drunk driving.

But U.S. drug policy expert Mark Kleiman believes otherwise. The NYU professor of public policy, who testified about cannabis legalization in Canada before both the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health and the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, is arguing that driving under the influence of marijuana alone ought to be treated as a traffic infraction.

Kleiman and his co-authors make that case in a new paper published in the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis.

Understanding their argument requires understanding how new cannabis-impaired driving laws — like those that took effect in Canada this year — came to mirror existing alcohol-impaired driving laws. It’s a policy choice that makes intuitive sense, but according to Kleiman that intuitiveness can be misleading.

“People don’t think about this stuff carefully. Alcohol and cannabis are both intoxicants,” Kleiman said in an interview.

“People look around and say, ‘Well look, we’ve got a policy about (alcohol) intoxicated driving, why don’t we just use it for this new intoxicant?’ That seems logical, until you look at the data, and then it doesn’t seem logical.”

Read the full article here.

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