Thursday, December 15, 2016

Unintended Consequences

Up to a dozen pot plants can be grown indoors as of today

The legalization of recreational pot as of today in formerly puritanical Massachusetts is indeed a much overdue milestone, but I will not be lighting up to celebrate.

My two major concerns are both related to public safety.  Since there is no accurate equivalent of a breath test machine that now makes drunk driving prosecution almost a slam dunk I worry police and the courts will have a hard time proving charges beyond the shadow of a doubt.

In fact the courts will have a hard time keeping up with prosecutions since most cases where a breath test was taken (otherwise the driver automatically loses their license for six months) and failed usually end up in a 24D plea deal which eases congestion on the system

But without a reliable scientifically proven test for pot intoxication those arrested will have a higher incentive to take their case all the way to jury trial and the courts are pretty overburdened as it is.

My other concern plays into a reoccurring nightmare of a late night major structure fire in a less than well maintained converted single family home with a few too many tenants, some of whom decided to grow marijuana in a dark closet or the basement.

In fact the most recent major fire in Amherst was due to an electrical overload (although not due to marijuana cultivation).  And marijuana plants require high intensity lamps to cultivate which more easily overload regular household circuits -- even those that are up to code.

When fire comes calling you better have your wits about you, otherwise you don't get out alive. 

UMass is already taking precautions (email to staff & students):

"Dear Students,
"Although Massachusetts voters recently approved a ballot measure permitting the possession and recreational use of marijuana, federal laws, including the Drug Free Schools and Communities Act and the Drug Free Workplace Act, require recipients of federal funds to prohibit the use, possession and/or cultivation of marijuana at educational institutions, regardless of state law."
"The use, possession, or cultivation of marijuana is therefore not allowed in any university housing or on any other university property. University staff will continue to enforce current policies regarding controlled substances, and any student who violates university policy prohibiting the use or possession of illegal drugs on campus may be subject to disciplinary action."


Anonymous said...

At the end of the day, all this law does is stop occupying the time of law enforcement and courts on weed, of all things. People who possessed, smoked, grew and drove while high will still do it, people who didn't still won't. Driving while impaired via marijuana is obviously a concern, but it really won't be more of an issue now versus when it was "illegal".

Anonymous said...

It's overdue not overdo. And loses not losses.

Larry Kelley said...

Corrected, thanks.

I kinda winged that one (as I often do).

Anonymous said...

Didn't want people to think you started celebrating the legalization already.

Larry Kelley said...

Something like that.

I can actually remember the day I gave up pot almost exactly 30 years ago. My South Amherst apartment complex caught fire on a Friday morning (Friday the 13th no less) and afterwards I wondered if my reactions would have been dulled had I been under the influence.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, Anon 1:14 p.m. will be incorrect. I believe that there will be an incremental increase of overall marijuana usage simply because it's now legal, and some of that increase will happen outside the home, involving operation of a motor vehicle under the influence of the herb. So I predict that this will not be status quo going forward. We'll see.

Larry has stated well his concerns, which I share.

Rich Morse

Dr. Ed said...

"...may be subject to disciplinary action."?!?!?

Bullshite -- the Drug Free Schools Act doesn't give UMass (or Hampshire College) that discretion, if they want to keep receiving the Federal $$$, it's gottaa be WILL be....

Oh, and Larry, the really interesting question about Hampshire College is how it's managed not to run afoul of the Drug Free Schools Act YET....

Anonymous said...

they should have just allowed people to grow it outdoors.

Dr. Ed said...

Rich Morse -- there is research out of England, that I can't seem to find right now, that said that pot & ETOH is worse than either alone. This is how you can have people with relatively low BACs but serious impairment.

Pot also reduces the vomit instinct, which is what helps lead to ETOH poisoning.

Oh, and Larry, the Drug Free Schools Act applies to faculty & staff, too. It doesn't apply to ETOH because they are over 21, but it definitely applies to pot...

Max Hartshorne said...

Larry you could use a few puffs ! Ha!!

Anonymous said...

Just remember someone my have one or two drinks and not be impaired. Not everyone drinks to get wasted but most smoke weed to get totally wasted...What other purpose is there to smoke weed if not to get high. You would smoke a cigarette if you just wanted to smoke.. Only a fool would think Larry is wrong when he addressed his concerns about safety and more people will feel they have the right to drive wasted because we have just told them it is ok.

Anonymous said...

I would probably end up over at Cooley Dic with an anxiety attack.

Anonymous said...

Rich and Larry:
I am sure there is actuarial data now available from Colorado. Just search it out: did traffic accidents increase following legalization? If so, what kinds of accidents? An increase in road related injuries or fatalities?

Dr. Ed said...

It's a Federally-funded 166 page report that Heritage summarized & linked to at:

Points (from above):

1. The majority of DUI drug arrests involve marijuana and 25 to 40 percent were marijuana alone.

2. In 2012, 10.47 percent of Colorado youth ages 12 to 17 were considered current marijuana users compared to 7.55 percent nationally. Colorado ranked fourth in the nation, and was 39 percent higher than the national average.

3. Drug-related student suspensions/expulsions increased 32 percent from school years 2008-09 through 2012-13, the vast majority were for marijuana violations.

4. In 2012, 26.81 percent of college age students were considered current marijuana users compared to 18.89 percent nationally, which ranks Colorado third in the nation and 42 percent above the national average.

5. In 2013, 48.4 percent of Denver adult arrestees tested positive for marijuana, which is a 16 percent increase from 2008.

6. From 2011 through 2013 there was a 57 percent increase in marijuana-related emergency room visits.

7. Hospitalizations related to marijuana has increased 82 percent since 2008.

Dr. Ed said...

According to AAA, pot-related fatal crashes doubled in WA.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Traffic accidents in Colorado by marijuana impairment increased 50% and fatalities went up 20%
The real issue is the percentage of kids aged 14-18 that began using. In addition schools in Boulder had to suspend the practice of suspending high school students for marijuana use because all the students were getting suspended..

Anonymous said...

If we are concerned about traffic accidents, why is alcohol legal. It is a known problem and cause and incredible number of deaths and injuries on the road. Alcohol is a huge problem in our culture.

Gavin Andresen said...

The good news is research seems to show that high drivers are LESS likely to get into accidents, maybe because they are aware they are impaired so drive more carefully.

The bad news is most high drivers are also drunk-- and they get into MORE accidents than sober or 'just drunk' people.

So public-safety-wise it isn't clear what will happen. But the important factor is still driving drunk, so the lack of a field test for being high really isn't a big deal.

(I don't have a link to the research handy, but a little searching at Google Scholar should find it).

Anonymous said...

There were already lots of pot user drivers that were on the road and causing very few accidents, according to the data.

Legalization is a government category, it now means folks can use it as an adult without being harassed by police as we have encourage police to do to our families for 40 plus years.

Legalization does NOT mean that people did not smoke it before and now they will, but that seems to be the reactions of the ignorant. There will be a slight increase in stoned driving, BUT as in other states that have taken the steps that Mass is now taking (and pretending like they are first), drunk driving will be DISPLACED by this slight increase is pot driving. This results in LESS accidents and a SAFER road when compared to the ones our leaders have designed for the last 40 plus years. As has been shown, pot is actually less dangerous than driving tired, which is shown to be as dangerous as drinking the evil alcohol.

If it is about data, this is good for roads and safety. If is about paranoia, this is a problem.

Kids using pot vs. getting addicted to alcohol is a good thing too. In CO, on the ground, this is working. Now parents just need to stop the propaganda so they can have actual real convos about pot with kids to mitigate its use while they are young.

The umass thing is funny, banned in housing. There is not a dorm on campus that has less than a pound of weed. Just in the near future, it will be higher quality weed.

Next pretend issue to debunk. Remember, from the government's perspective, pot is not a safety issue, it is a revenue issue. Somehow they wised up faster than the public, which is not a good sign, as we are the governments actual brain, we should be smarter.

Anonymous said...

Drive more careful when high?!?!?! Are you high?! Weed + booze = exponential impairment as they affect different centers of the brain. How booze gets into and out of the body is relatively simple and there are few long lasting affects. Weed goes to the fatty tissues (you there is fat in your brain) and it resides there with a half-life of 28 days. If you know anything about half life then you know that it isn't gone, just reduced and who doesn't smoke/consume again within 28 days? Toss in that the frontal lobe is not mature until 25 and we may open up a whole host of other issues. Combine weed with X drug/booze and Houston, we have a problem. Do not worry, you won't be there to pick up the pieces (unless you get caught in the cross fire), AFD and APD will. Sux to be them.

I have personally spoken to cops and prosecutors from CO and WA abut this issue a few years ago. What was their honest response? It was a "shit show", the increased revenue was not worth what was going on. They did admit that it subsided after a couple of years once the initial hooray was over but it still remains a huge issue. Look at the stats Ed posted. He was right on.

Crashes, fatalities, poly drug use, ER rooms packed, unintended consumption (some of these fools market THC gummy bears, chocolate bars, etc…what could go wrong with that?? eyes rolling/sarcasm) and even overdoes. The trick with edibles is that you have to WAIT for the high. Some dopes ate some, felt nothing, ate more. Felt nothing, ate more..repeated cycle until THC became toxic and whammo = dead.

You are going to see some darwinism real soon, the heard will be culled. My only concern is that innocents do not get affected (too much) but somehow they always do. Anon 926 rationalizes that there have been smokers for 40 years…they had to hide it and work to get it. Now it will be freely in the open. That number will rise as those who may never have tried/use it now think "hey its legal so why not". It only takes one bad decision to forever alter your or someone else's life. The number of those risk takers just increased. I personally have made a shit ton of bad decisions after consuming booze, most of us have, and now I look back having survived and thank God I did not get myself or someone else into a real jam. The capriciousness of youth…youth is wasted on the young…and all the other sayings have a tinge of truth no?

Lets just hope you realize the eventual strain this will put on AFD and APD so when you have a medical issue and cannot get an ambulance or even a cop..good luck. That day is already here (ever listen to a scanner) when I have heard ambulances coming from Hamp or mutual aid going out with 30 minute waits for a bus. I only pray that when the big one comes (I am coming Elizabeth!!!) that its not on a weekend night when tyne students are in town. If so, Ill be taking the dirt nap. Maybe the revenue from the weed can staff another ambulance? Finance the fire station in south amherst? Hire a few firefighters and/or cops? Nah, in this town we will have a few more raised crosswalks.

Anonymous said...

anon6:28 AM: I've got news for you- a surprisingly large number of ARHS are high everyday already... I honestly cannot believe that legalizing it for adults will affect that number (they already have v easy access). just about everyone deals weed at ARHS

Anonymous said...

What does the surgeon general have to say about the crap that goes into your lungs?

Anonymous said...

"I've got news for you- a surprisingly large number of ARHS are high everyday already... just about everyone deals weed at ARHS."

This one is clearly the voice of a young student who has yet to understand how to write clearly, or it is the voice of an adult who just likes to believe whatever fantasy pops into his head.

How would you know how many people at ARHS are high? How would anyone know that unless they tested everyone in the building everyday. And the second part is beyond ridiculous. Logically, if "just about everyone deals weed, " then who are they dealing to? Right, Numbskull? If everyone is selling, who is buying?

Stay in school kid and learn how to reason better because you ani't ready for the big bad world.

Dr. Ed said...

12:30 -- The Drug Free Schools Act applies to K-12.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it would be good to get some business advice from these kids. They have figured out a way where everyone can be in business, but for adults only a small fraction are in business, the rest are either unemployed or serving those in business.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:30...if just about everyone at ARHS is dealing the who is Buying? But thanks for the "news"!

Anonymous said...

@December 16, 2016 at 6:28 AM

"Boulder had to suspend the practice of suspending high school students for marijuana use because all the students were getting suspended..."

Sounds like somebody's having a green day.

Anonymous said...

All these statistics from Colorado. When do you think they started monitoring weed use and driving etc...

They may have had some data from previous to legalization, but you can bet they changed their data gathering after legalization, because that's when folks started asking the questions.

So these analyses are crap. People have been driving stoned for decades. If they had an accident, unless they admitted (or were even asked) whether they had smoked weed and when, nobody even noticed, because no one was counting.

There is no definitive test for marijuana intoxication, so how do they know anybody is stoned definitively? Especially in the fatality figures cited above.

More hysteria. It's legal. Get used to it.

Anonymous said...

"It's legal get use to it" You are a pinhead!!

Anonymous said...


I think you mean beyond a "reasonable doubt", not a "shadow of a doubt".

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a hint of "if it is dangerous, it should be illegal" in this thread, like that matters. Perhaps even some "if it is more dangerous, it should be more illegal"

Well if we are using that philosophy in stead of adult liberty...our work has just begun.

My sense is recreational driving kills more than recreational marijuana, in fact we all know this.

What should be done to a mother that puts her kid in the car and drives around all day, risking that kid's life and others, just to do random activities, like pick up party favors or the milk she forgot yesterday. Since the mother took such a risk with the life of a minor in her care, that could have been easily avoided with a better decision, what should the punishment be for risking her child's life? What should the punishment be for the 10th offense, the 100th, the 10,000th?

If not, what is this really about?

What has a bigger risk, protesting in front of TD Bank or driving to Noho in the bank of your mom's car? Which costs society more, who gets the bill?

Anonymous said...

How to know? Take a whiff of their pot/coffee breath. Smell their clothes. Their hair. Look into their eyes.

Anonymous said...

The Who is buying? That's the root cause of why half the group is dead.