Marijuana and aberrant behavior


I am certainly not an expert on marijuana,
and have zero personal experience with it.

But I have noticed the recent successes
that advocates of its legalization
have had in various political jurisdictions
(Colorado and the District of Columbia, for example;
for a survey see "Legality of cannabis by U.S. jurisdiction").
Also I have noticed that the Washington Post,
the newspaper I read the most,
and its affiliate, the Express,
seem, to me anyhow, to view such legalization
as entirely a good thing,
quoting extensively from those who advocate for its legalization
(e.g., Adam Eidinger
and spokespeople for organizations promoting marijuana legalization)
while ignoring those people
(I assume they exist, thought they are hard to find in the Post)
who view this trend with alarm.

Well, that is all just unsubstantiated opinion on my part.
But, while scanning the news recently,
I have noticed that marijuana was present in large quantities
in the systems of two people who committed very aberrant behavior:

Michael Brown, of Ferguson, Missouri notoriety:
The toxicology test, performed by a St. Louis University laboratory,
revealed tetrahydrocannabinol, THC for short,
in Brown’s blood and urine.

Alfred Staubus, a consultant in forensic toxicology
at the Ohio State University College of Pharmacy, said that
THC could impair judgment or slow reaction times but that
there was no reliable measurement to make those conclusions.

States that have legalized marijuana have struggled with
the issue of how to measure impairment.

“The detection of THC in the postmortem blood of Michael Brown
really indicates his recent use of marijuana (within a few hours)
and that he may or may not have been impaired
at the time of his death,”
Staubus wrote in an email.

A woman who was the perpetrator of a terrible automobile crash:
Diane Schuler,
whose wrong-way driving on the Taconic State Parkway in New York state
caused the deaths of herself, her daughter, three of her nieces,
and three men in the vehicle she hit head on,
also had marijuana in her system:
From Wikipedia (2015-03-22):
A toxicology report released on August 4
by Westchester County medical examiners
found that
Schuler had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.19,
with approximately six grams of alcohol in her stomach
that had not yet been absorbed into her blood.
The legal BAC limit is 0.08.
The report also said that she had high levels of THC,
the active ingredient in marijuana, in her system
and had smoked marijuana as recently as
15 minutes prior to the collision.

Well, two such events prove nothing.
But it may be worth tracking the extent to which
those making serious errors in judgement.

From a "fact sheet" put out by Frontline (WGBH):
2. Impaired memory for recent events,
difficulty concentrating,
dreamlike states,
impaired motor coordination,
impaired driving and other psychomotor skills,
slowed reaction time,
impaired goal-directed mental activity,
and altered peripheral vision
are common associated effects.
(Adams and Martin 1996; Fehr and Kalant 1983; Hollister 1988a; Institute of Medicine 1982; Tart 1971)

3. A roadside study of reckless drivers
who were not impaired by alcohol,
showed that
45% of these drivers tested positive for marijuana.
(Dr. Dan Brookoff, published in the New England Journal of Medicine)

Note also
this December 2014 statement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse:
Marijuana significantly impairs
judgment, motor coordination, and reaction time,

and studies have found a direct relationship between
blood THC concentration and impaired driving ability.
Marijuana is the illicit drug most frequently found
in the blood of drivers who have been involved in accidents,
including fatal ones
(although it is important to note that marijuana can remain detectable in body fluids for days or even weeks after acute intoxication).
A meta-analysis of multiple studies found that
the risk of being involved in an accident roughly doubles
after marijuana use.

Accident-involved drivers with THC in their blood,
particularly higher levels,
are three to seven times more likely to be responsible for the accident
than drivers who had not used drugs or alcohol.
The risk associated with marijuana in combination with alcohol
appears to be greater than that for either drug by itself.

I really do wonder why such skeptical views of marijuana
do not seem to make much of an appearance in the Washington Post.
Think its editors are a bunch of potheads,
pushing homosexuality, drugs, and rock-and-roll,
when they're not pushing political correctness at home
and unnecessary, costly, deadly, and counter-productive conflicts abroad?