By Anthony Martinelli
In 2010, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was one of the most vocal and powerful voices opposed to Proposition 19, the failed ballot effort in California which would of legalized cannabis.
In 2011, MADD furthered this misplaced opposition by partnering with the ONDCP (Office of National Drug Control Policy, headed by our nation’s Drug Czar) in a nationally coordinated effort to combat “drugged driving.” In other words; joining forces to oppose efforts to reform our failed cannabis policies, working towards unscientific per se driving laws, and continuing to spread the same misinformation the ONDCP has become famous for.
In taking this approach, MADD is counteracting their own agenda. By working to defeat the legalization of cannabis, they’re directly responsible for fatalities that could of otherwise been avoided.
It’s unfortunate that they won’t examine recent research: A study released a little over a year ago by the Institute for the Study of Labor found that states which have legalized medical cannabis saw a drastic 9 percent decrease in overall traffic fatalities, including an even higher decrease among young adults. The largest contributor to this drop, was a decrease in alcohol consumption.
In reality, legalized cannabis could be one of the largest weapons to combat drunk driving.
In 2012, MADD was noticeably quieter with regard to cannabis related ballot initiatives in Washington, Colorado and Oregon. However, we can’t take this as a sign of their future absence, since a much larger national push against cannabis law reform is in the works.
In speaking with a member of MADDs national board of directors, who wishes to remain anonymous and is internally fighting the policy shift, Toke of the Town was told that MADD has plans in the works to label “stoned driving” as a menace as great or greater than drunk driving. A large percentage of their resources will go into opposing future efforts at legalization on the state and national level – a huge mistake, and one that flies directly in the face of their public safety concerns.
This is where education and objection comes into play. It’s up to us to do our part, to show MADD how unacceptable it is for them to blindly oppose efforts that would actually help their primary cause, a cause that many of us see as noble: We all know the devastation that drunk driving can bring – deterring it is what they should stay focused on.
The science is consistent in showing that cannabis consumption does not lead to an increase in traffic fatalities, and is exponentially safer than alcohol. Even if this is disagreed upon – though there wouldn’t be much grounding to do so – it’s a fallacy to assume that cannabis legalization will automatically increase the number of “stoned drivers” on the streets. Even if it were to increase cannabis consumption, research indicates that it would lead to a simultaneous decrease in drunk driving.
If you agree that it’s absurd for MADD to be putting resources into fighting the legalization of cannabis, rather than focusing on their objective of deterring drunk driving, make it known to them. Like it or not, MADD is a powerful player in the field of politics, and we need to let them know how we feel. It won’t be an easy feat to get them to understand our side. However, if we approach them with persistence and hard facts, it’s surely possible, and will give a lot of weight to those within the organization who agree with our perspective.
MADD can be contacted a number of ways. We encourage you to use them all, and to urge your friends, family and colleagues to do the same:
|Anthony Martinelli of Sensible Washington is the author of this article|
• Fill out their form regarding their organizational policies and statistics.
• Give them a call – they can be reached at 877-ASK-MADD (275-6233).
• Send them a letter – MADD National Office, 511 E. John Carpenter Freeway, Suite 700, Irving, TX 75062.
• Search for, and get in contact with < a href="http://www.madd.org/local-offices/">local MADD branches.
Here is an example letter that can be sent to MADD, and can be altered in any number of ways:
[Today’s Date]Dear Mothers Against Drunk Driving,I’m contacting you to ask that you cease your opposition to legalizing cannabis.As a parent, I strongly appreciate the work you do, and have done, towards educating the public on the devastation that drunk driving brings.With that stated, I strongly believe that your opposition to legalizing cannabis is misguided, and counterproductive.For example: Recent research has shown a 9% decrease in traffic fatalities in states that have legalized medical cannabis – a huge decline. This decrease is even higher among young adults. (http://www.iza.org/en/webcontent/publications/papers/viewAbstract?dp_id=6112)The reason for this is simple; the slight increase in cannabis consumption led to a statistical decrease in alcohol consumption. This decrease allowed fatalities to drop at a consistent rate, regardless of the particular state.In addition, scientific research has been consistent in finding that cannabis consumption does not lead to an increase in traffic fatalities.Cannabis prohibition has continued to enrich criminal organizations (directly harming public safety), while failing to deter usage rates. I sincerely urge you to reconsider any further opposition towards reforming this policy.Thank you,[Your Name Here]