Volume 92, Issue 89

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Update not done in time

Lone candidate can still lose

Campus hate crimes raise issue of racial tolerance

Beach not holding its water back

Brawl shakes up local bar

Study high on driving

Campus crime heats up with weather

Caught on campus

Study high on driving

By Wes Brown
Gazette Staff

Next time you're thinking about drinking and driving, try smoking marijuana and driving instead – it's safer.

A review of 12 studies, as well as research done by Alison Smiley, member of the mechanical and industrial engineering department at the University of Toronto, have shown both marijuana and alcohol impair driving but in different ways.

"Drivers under the influence of alcohol tend to be more risky in their speeding and passing while those under the influence of marijuana drive more slowly and take less risks, making them safer," Smiley said.

After reviewing performance statistics, Smiley looked at 2,500 accidents in Australia and found alcohol responsible in almost every case, while marijuana was less of a factor. "Drivers who had marijuana in their systems were actually just as guilty as those who were driving sober," she said.

Const. Nigel Stucke of the London police traffic management unit said no matter how much safer marijuana may seem, neither are safe.

"While driving a 3,000 pound vehicle at night [the London police] want you as alert as possible. You cannot compare two things that are so different," Stucke said.

London police are not prepared for roadside drug testing and Stucke said such incidents are not prevalent in London. "I'm not saying it doesn't happen. There has maybe been a handful of instances that I can remember."

Pete Young, a board member of the Medical Marijuana Centre of Ontario, said these findings coincide with his own field research .

"This information helps in showing cannabis is the safest form of drugs currently on the market. The truth is coming out from behind what society has told us all along about the evils of cannabis," he said.

Young said he believes the police have a method of testing whether you are driving under the influence of cannabis but are withholding it to stifle any legalization steps.

"[Police] wipe the inside of the windshield and take a swab of the driver's tongue. If they show positive results you can be charged. They will not use it, however, because they want us to believe there is still no way to tell whether someone is stoned while driving," Young said.

Brian Timney, a psychology professor at Western, said although he is unfamiliar with Smiley's findings, he also believes those driving after smoking marijuana are less likely to drive recklessly.

"Marijuana is not as dangerous a drug as alcohol. Marijuana is not especially a harmful drug, period," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999