Remember that Rand Corporation study from earlier this year that claimed crime actually increased in L.A. neighborhoods where cops closed medical marijuana dispensaries? The one that forgot to include crime statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department?? The one that Rand had to retract because it was pretty much completely worthless???
Well, if you do, it will come as no surprise that the Santa Monica-based think tank's somewhat, uh, flawed, report is number five on Scientific American's list of 2011's biggest retractions.
You can read more about that particular blunder here.
But despair not, oh ye advocates of medical ganja, for the year's end brings great tidings of the many miracles this wondrous weed is visiting upon our land. Forget about crime, let's talk drunk driving! Oh wait, that's also a crime. But anyway, what was I saying? Ah yes, let's celebrate a brand new study that purports to show how states that have allowed the medical use of marijuana have seen a drop in both traffic fatalities and beer sales.
The report, by D. Mark Anderson, an economics professor with Montana Sate University, and the University of Colorado's Daniel Rees claims a 9 percent decrease in traffic-related deaths in the 13 states that had legalized medical marijuana as of 2009, according to an article in Montana's Missoulian newspaper. The report also shows that beer consumption in those states has decreased by five percent.
That's nice, although it doesn't necessarily mean that the dwindling beer drinkers are turning to pot rather than Maker's Mark or meth, for that matter. Moreover, the math on the traffic fatalities seems a little fuzzy, too. While the report shows a decrease in fatal accidents at nights and on weekends, when many drunk drivers typically roam the road, that's not the same as proving a direct correlation between medical marijuana and a drop in drunk driving.
In fact, as the newspaper points out, one of the report's own authors admits that the drop in traffic fatalities could be related to just about anything, including the simple possibility that fewer people are driving, which raises another compelling question for men and women of science: does smoking pot make you more likely to sit on your ass rather than leave your house?
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).