Cannabis behind Staten Island traffic fatality? Um, no...

Posted on February 18th, 2016 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , .

New York CityBut the latest in New York City's workaday traffic fatalities (there were 242 in 2015, according to the Mean Streets blog) is the case of middle-aged Stanley Marshall, who was riding his bike on Staten Island's Richmond Ave. when he was run down by a motorist who pulled out of a parking lot. The headline in the Daily News reads: "Man, 59, killed while riding bicycle by stoned driver on Staten Island." The motorist, Lisa Martini, admitted to police: "I was just pulling out from getting my food and I guess I hit something. I smoked a little bit of weed around 2:30."

But in the next paragraph down is a continuation of the quote: “I take buspirone for my anxiety problem and sometimes Xanax,” she added. Martini was swaying, and had bloodshot eyes, body tremors and poor coordination, the complaint said.

Now, pot, as we all know, can cause bloodshot eyes. But body tremors and poor coordination? Every toker knows that is not part of the cannabis high. However, RxList website informs us side effects of Xanax include "dizziness" and "poor balance or coordination." And buspirone? Expect "dizziness... nervousness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, blurred vision," according to RxList.

Martini is a 9-11 widow (her husband was an FDNY lieutenant killed in the Twin Towers collapse), so we're not here to give her a hard time over her substance use. But let's not allow this incident to become more fodder for anti-cannabis propaganda. However counterintuitive it may seem (for people who don't actually use cannabis), a 2011 study found a reduction in traffic fatalities in states that had legalized medical marijuana. The conjecture was folks were turning to legal cannabis instead of alcohol. The study's authors were quick to emphasize that their research doesn't "prove" that cannabis impairs driving less than alcohol. But anybody who has used both knows that is the case. And we'll bet the same can be said of pot as compared to Xanax and buspirone .

More to the point: It is the domination of the city's streets by toxin-belching death machines that is really responsible for traffic fatalities—and everyone accepts that as completely "normal." You've got to give New York's Mayor Bill de Blasio credit for his Vision Zero program that at least aspires to get the human roadkill down to nothing before he leaves office. But what is the critical issue here? That Lisa Martini was high on ‪‎cannabis‬? Or that she was driving an automobile? If anyone asks me, I say: ban cars‬, legalize pot!


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