Incompetence or Dishonesty?

May 23, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III substance.  Normally such an action would be undertaken by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

The DOJ action was prompted by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in a 252-page letter to the DEA.  The DEA administrator did not support the proposal but passed it on to the DOJ (Department of Justice) to whom DEA reports, along with its own 92-page analysis.

There are numerous reasons why the government’s proposal is a bad idea, but the principal concern of DUID Victim Voices deals with the proposal’s effects on traffic safety, something that was effectively ignored by both the HHS and the DEA in their published analyses.

HHS wrote three paragraphs in their 252-page report dealing with marijuana-impaired driving.  In those three paragraphs they simply referred to two surveys (National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Youth Risk Behavioral Survey System) demonstrating that the self-acknowledged incidence of driving under the influence of marijuana is increasing. That was their entire analysis.

There was no discussion about the effects on of driving under the influence of marijuana on highway safety, how law enforcement can or cannot deal with that problem, or the expected effect of the NPRM on that problem.

In other words, they ignored it.

DEA didn’t do much better. They wrote one paragraph misquoting two largely irrelevant studies that purport to show that traffic deaths increase when marijuana is legalized.  But again, no discussion of how law enforcement can or cannot deal with that problem, or the potential effects of the NPRM on highway safety.

DUID Victim Voices submitted comments to the DOJ and has requested an opportunity to testify at a hearing in opposition to the down classification based on the following:

  1. The government did not make its case.  It ignored the dangers of drugged driving, drugged driving enforcement problems and how the down classification would make current problems worse.
  2. Marijuana use has been shown to substantially increase traffic deaths.  Based on data from three independent studies, full legalization would likely increase traffic deaths by over 6,000 fatalities annually – that’s two 9/11 disasters each year.
  3. Downclassification would make today’s problems worse, as shown by the increase in daily and near-daily users of marijuana after each past governmental action to relax restrictions on marijuana.
  4. Tools needed by law enforcement to successfully identify, charge, and convict drugged drivers do not exist, as they do for drunk drivers.  There is no objective impairment assessment tool for marijuana’s THC as there is for alcohol.  The laws of chemistry and human physiology prevent there from ever being a correlation between blood levels of THC and brain levels of THC that causes impairment.
  5. Until an objective impairment assessment tool is available for THC, it is irresponsible to downschedule marijuana.

Here is the first paragraph of our 29-page comment to the DOJ:

The DOJ/DEA/HHS analysis of the effect of marijuana’s THC (Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol) on driving safety is incomplete.  It is shallow.    It shows a complete lack of understanding of the data, issues and the science involved.  It is insulting to victims.  It is incompetent.  It would be a compliment to call it sophomoric.

Unanswered are the following questions:  Why was the government’s effort to justify a bad decision so completely inept?  Personal incompetence?  Dishonesty?  Corruption?

There can be no disagreement about the facts in our written comment.  They are fully documented.  There is, of course, a difference in values: personal gratification versus social responsibility.


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