Last Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial that compared marijuana and alcohol use, particularly the relative harms of the two substances and the influence people substituting marijuana for alcohol could have on road safety.
But assuming the argument that alcohol and marijuana are “substitutes” bears out, that could be good news, especially for road safety. Of the two substances, alcohol is far more hazardous.
For the most part, marijuana-intoxicated drivers show only modest impairments on road tests. Several studies have suggested that drivers under the influence of marijuana actually overestimate their impairment. They slow down and increase their following distance. The opposite is true of drivers under the influence of alcohol. [MPP emphasis added]
It should be noted that no one should drive under the influence of any impairing substance, including marijuana. Still, the overall impact on public safety due to making marijuana legal will certainly be positive.
The New York Times has a rapidly growing readership and can have a tremendous impact on public opinion. For a paper of this magnitude to recognize and discuss the respective effects of marijuana and alcohol shows real progress in the changing attitudes towards marijuana.