Massachusetts Campaign Criticizes Opponents For Misleading Statements On Impaired Driving


The Yes on 4 Campaign today charged that the Safe and Healthy Massachusetts Campaign is attributing results to a Washington state AAA study that directly contradict the study’s own authors.

In a press conference held today at the State House, Question 4 opponents repeatedly stated that the Washington study showed increases in driving fatalities due to marijuana-impaired drivers.

However, the study’s executive summary includes the following language: “Results of this study do not indicate that drivers with detectable THC in their blood at the time of the crash were necessarily impaired by THC or that they were at-fault for the crash; the data available cannot be used to assess whether a given driver was actually impaired, and examination of fault in individual crashes was beyond the scope of this study.”

“Our opponents are deliberately misleading the voters of Massachusetts. The Washington study showed no increases in fatalities due to marijuana-impaired drivers. It showed increased presence of marijuana in tested drivers, but even those findings are flawed, since ‘presence’ could mean marijuana use weeks before a testing,” said Yes on 4 Director of Communications Jim Borghesani.

In addition, half of the drivers cited in the study were never tested for any substance. In order to use these drivers in the study, the authors employed a statistical methodology called “imputation.” However, they were imputing data from years when no marijuana testing was performed on Washington drivers.

A recent Cato Institute report on the four legal marijuana states found no impact on road safety. In Colorado, DUI marijuana arrests dropped in 2015 compared to 2014, despite increased vigilance by more troopers with Drug Recognition Expert training. Earlier this year, Andrew Freedman, director of the Colorado governor’s Office of Marijuana Coordination, told a Vermont legislative committee that, “With greater enforcement and more miles on the road, if anything we would have expected an increase of citations over the course of 2015 and we saw a flat line of citations.”

Yes on 4 also disputed opponents’ assertions that police would have difficulty controlling the roads if marijuana becomes legal.

“First, we have seen no increase in marijuana-related driving arrests in legal states, nor in Massachusetts after passage of decriminalization and medical marijuana. Second, police now have the ability to pull anyone off the road who fails a field sobriety test, no matter what the substance. We fully support providing police with the technical means to help prove cases in court, and we’re confident that such technology will be available when retail sales begin in 2018,” Borghesani said.

Several field instruments to detect marijuana intoxication will be in the field nationally in 2017.

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