Wednesday, May 11, 2016
WA State Going Down the "High" Road
Roughly 10% of Washington State drivers involved in fatal car crashes between 2010 and 2014 tested positive for recent marijuana use.
The percentage of drivers who had used pot within hours of the crash doubled between 2013 and 2014, according to an AAA study.
Peter Kissinger, CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says, "Washington serves as an eye-opening case study for what other states may experience with road safety after legalizing the drug."
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission says car crash victims testing positive for marijuana use has increased 48%.
It is an eye-opening case, yet those who chose, and influenced others to follow, this road for the state are arguing that the issue is not the pot---it's how the effect of the pot is measured.
In fact, the pushback against AAA's statements have been such that they have come out with a second study that discourages lawmakers from adopting "arbitrary legal limits" on marijuana use because of a lack of adequate methods to determine impairment by the drug.
With the second study in hand, the pot industry slowly exhaled and seized the moment.
Now, they realized, they can discuss and argue about the techniques of measuring impairment, while the car crashes---and other negative effects of pot continue to smolder---and lives and families are changed forever.
Paul Armentano, who heads up the pro-marijuana group NORML, is framing the argument, saying, "We should not conflate the detection of certain substance with the notion that the driver was necessarily impaired with certain substances."
Just because people smoke pot to get high does not mean they are high or impaired?
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) has released data that shows marijuana is increasingly as a factor in deadly crashes, with the number of drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for marijuana increasing 48% from 2013 to 2014.
They report: "We have seen marijuana involvement in fatal crashes remain steady over the years, and then it spiked in 2014."
Marijuana was legalized in Washington State in 2012.
The other dirty little fact is that state government has found a new income stream in pot.
A huge income stream.
This makes going down the "high" road a little smoother for too many legislators.
Bloomberg Financial reported last October that pot revenue in the state is climbing from $67.5 million in the first year.
In fact, Bloomberg reports, based on the WA Office of Financial Management, "Washington State expects marijuana sales to bring in more than $1 billion over the next 4 years."
The link above shows the positive financial impact selling marijuana has and will have on state income.
And these projections are based on the fact that marijuana sales and possession are still federally illegal.
Once federal restrictions are removed---the sky's the limit.
Washington's Treasurer Jim McIntire, Bloomberg says, is skeptical that marijuana can be the cash cow that the budget office promised.
Treasurer McIntire says, "It sounds great...I know it's legal, but it's pot...Who'd have ever thought?"
Yeah, who'd have ever thought? There's a part of me that's glad my parents and grandparents and great-grandparents are, while their remains are here in the state, in Heaven-- their eternal homeland.They would be in disbelief.
They, as McIntire, would be saying' "Who'd have ever thought?"
I know it's "legal," but having worked as a youth pastor with so many kids---thousands of kids--- over the years, I've seen the real measurable effects of drugs.
And marijuana is a drug.
The pot promoters can argue over the techniques of testing for impairment...
The money changers in Olympia can quietly count their coins...
But I've seen the devastation of so-called "recreational drug" use.
Oregon and Colorado are following Washington down the "high" road;
While drug promoters and politicians in other states are directing their citizens toward the on-ramp.
There is an abundance of studies, including government studies, that affirm marijuana is a "gateway" drug.
It not only impairs those who use it but leads further down the "high" road to deeper addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says studies show marijuana use further deepens other addictions to substances. They report that although all users do not go on to "harder" drugs, "these findings are consistent with the idea of marijuana as a 'gateway' drug."
A Yale Study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health affirms that marijuana is not only a harmful drug but a gateway drug to harder drugs and deeper addictions.
The news reflects the consequences of drug abuse every day.
The image of a pot smoking citizen-- for medicinal or recreational purposes---formerly sitting in his basement, now on his front porch, legally recreating a bit is an illusion.
Pot smoking today is often linked with dangerous, psychotic meth use, with marijuana being joined with other drugs such as methamphetamines, or "bath salts" and krokodil.
Do not be deceived. We are only beginning to see the proverbial tip of the iceberg.
As the income to the state continues to go up, the "high" road continues to lead downward.
It is written, "There is a way that seems right to a man, but the way of it is death," or destruction.
This romance with destruction often reflects the ignorance to the better way.
I have seen kids and adults delivered and restored from drug abuse by the power of God and His Gospel.
I believe that same power can restore our land and our communities and our culture.
But how will they know if they aren't told?
This is not a time to be silent. It is a time to speak the Truth.
Be Informed. Be Bold. Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Prayerful.