Is Driving on Cannabis a Problem?

Yesterday, the Ottawa Police thought they were showing the dangers of impaired driving by giving demonstrations at the Ottawa-Gatineau International Auto Show. 

The simulation involved putting on distorted vision goggles, Velcro body weights, and headphones while walking in a straight line and counting out loud.

Police said it demonstrated what it was like to drive a vehicle while impaired by cannabis, cocaine, ecstasy, or heroin. Notice the qualifier “or,” as in all drugs have the same effects which is akin to wearing body weights, headphones and distorted vision goggles.

And why go to all this trouble? Well, with legal cannabis on the horizon (or maybe in time for the next federal election) police are worried about impaired driving.

Sergeant John Kiss, who heads the Ottawa police Impaired Driving Counter Measures Program, is worried that, while drunk driving is taboo, there is “an emerging trend” among young people that driving and smoking doesn’t cause any harm.

“’What’s the matter? Have a toke. Drive. It loosens me up. I’m more relaxed. I can drive better when I’m stoned,’ – this is the stuff we’re hearing. It’s incredible,” Kiss said.

Whether or not driving on cannabis is as dangerous as Ottawa police make it out to be is not the issue. Speed, weather conditions, and driver error can all result in traffic fatalities, one does not need to bring drugs and alcohol into the mix.

Alcohol and drugs are not responsible for vehicular deaths and accidents, they are the proximate causes.

If I shot a guy, you wouldn’t say the bullet killed him and therefore I am innocent. The bullet was the proximate cause, whereas the real killer would be me — the guy who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger.

Likewise, any perceived problems with smoking cannabis and getting behind the wheel is the responsibility of the road manager.

Unfortunately, road managers aren’t entrepreneurs, but rather, civil servants who live off taxes and never go bankrupt.

If a restaurant shut down, it wouldn’t be because of the proximate causes such as poorly cooked food, rude service, bad location or unclean premises — it would be because the owners, or managers of the restaurant failed to address these problems.

If all roads and highways were privately owned, various owners would compete with one another to provide service for their customers. Those that failed (e.g., couldn’t provide safety), would be forced to change or declare bankruptcy.

The road entrepreneurs who would save lives by better managing drunk driving, excessive speeding, or — heaven forbid — stoned driving, would earn profits. There would be a financial incentive to keep roads and highways safe.

Privatization works with computers, cars, clothes, books, shoes — literally an abundance of goods and services.

State ownership, on the other hand, is the reason the Soviet Union has ceased to exist, and why Communist China opened up their markets (albeit, in a crony-capitalist way).

Canada has borrowed from the discredited Soviet economic model and applied it to our roads and highways.

This is why people die on the roads, or suffer traffic congestion ubiquitous enough to welcome the term “road rage” into common use.

Private ownership allows entrepreneurs, willing to risk their own money, freedom to discover the best rules of road. The more successful they are, the more satisfied consumers will be, and thus the road entrepreneur will earn higher profits.

Free-and-fair markets have brought Canadians world-class living standards, and this cannot be replicated by politicians, bureaucrats or taxpayer-funded police monopolies.

When the state manages roads in an ineffective way, there is no loss financially.

And that’s the issue with impaired driving.

In a free enterprise system, “stoned driving” may or may not affect the bottom-line in the same way drunk driving likely would.

If stoned driving is a problem, then what’s the best solution? Road-side checkpoints that violate our liberty? Heavier penalties? More anti-cannabis propaganda? Rewards for sober driving?

The only way to figure this out is to privatize all highways, roads, byways, county roads, city streets and even sidewalks.

Unleash entrepreneurs and rein in unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats.