CALIFORNIA: A January 5 article at The Sacramento Bee reports on the decision to stop running a controversial public service announcement sponsored by the California Office of Traffic Safety. Critics argued that the ad – which featured a diverse group of individuals explaining why they use pot but also do not drive while high — promoted the use of marijuana at the same time as it tried to discourage getting behind the wheel while high.
Legal Defenders at the Law Offices of Burg & Brock, a Los Angeles-based personal injury law firm, says that, the controversy aside, any means of reminding the public that all types of impaired driving can easily lead to deaths and permanent injury is laudable. It adds that the first priority of public efforts to discourage potentially deadly poor behavior should be sending a powerful and persuasive message, not rendering either approval or disapproval of various substances.
Legal Defenders notes that, while some people may find drinking to be less questionable than using recreational marijuana, the issue is not the substance, but the greatly increased likelihood of a deadly collision while driving under the influence of a substance. It adds that the friends and relatives of someone who has died because of an impaired driver do not really care whether the impairment came from alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, prescription drugs, a smart phone, or lack of sleep. Cultural issues around the social acceptance of the use of alcohol and marijuana might be ripe subjects for public discussion and debate, but the real issue with impaired driving has nothing to do with social norms and everything to do with human lives, says the law firm.
A much more relevant issue relating to the legalization of cannabis and traffic safety says Legal Defenders, is the need for authorities to better assess and define what actually constitutes impaired driving while using cannabis. At the same, it’s obviously important for groups advocating against drunk or drugged driving to educate the public that, while the effects of alcohol and marijuana may differ, they share a very similar potential to cause deadly accidents, says the law firm. The real moral issue involved in impaired driving, says Legal Defenders, has everything to do with every driver’s responsibility not to endanger the lives of others and less to do with social norms relating to indulging in pot or alcohol.