Drinking, driving and toking


As a high school student, I was part of a group of pretentious, self-righteous, mostly teetotalers known as Students Against Drinking and Driving (SADD). We tied on red ribbons and staged wrecked cars to remind people not to drink and drive. I even had my picture taken while lying in a body bag. Good times.

And as self-righteous teenagers, we felt good that we were doing something about it. Drinking and driving was a horrible menace, taking lives every day across the country.

Step forward a quarter century and guess what? Drinking and driving is a horrible menace, and still taking lives every day across the country.

In the intervening years, there has been no end to demands to get tough on drinking and driving. At least three times in Saskatchewan they have ratcheted up the penalties in one way or another. Other provinces have taken similar measures and the feds have done the same. Yet, still, Saskatchewan is a leader in drinking and driving.

None of the arguments have changed. This scourge of our society has not gone away, nor will it ever, unless provinces prohibit alcohol entirely.

What did you say, Zinchuk? Prohibition? That didn’t work! Don’t you know? It just led to rum running, speakeasies, moonshine and total flaunting of the law!

Look at what else is prohibited, and seemingly everyone partakes of anyhow! Like, marijuana! In fact, we should eliminate the prohibition on marijuana, too! Indeed, let’s elect a prime minister, who has admitted to partaking, to do just that!

And so it came to pass that the Canadian people did just that, and verily the new government put more focus on legalizing toking than the national deficit.

The question I am now posing is this: will my grandchildren be self-righteous members of Students Against Toking and Driving?

What will the death toll be, 25 years from now, from marijuana consumption and driving? What demands will we hear from the families of those who are killed? From Mothers Against Toking and Driving?

The oil industry is in a rightful tizzy about the pending legalization of marijuana. In an industry where drug testing is a normal condition of employment, how do you tell people, sorry, you can’t have a perfectly legal product in your system (which remains in your body for weeks) and continue to work? I’ve attended seminars to this effect held by Enform, the petroleum industry safety association. Safety meetings are usually pretty boring affairs, but if you want to get the discussion going, bring up the legalization of pot! Oh boy!

Every few weeks or so I see an internet meme go across my Facebook feed which goes like this: “Why do I have pass a drug test to work when people on welfare don’t have to pass a drug test to get a cheque?”

There is a lot of truth to that statement, which is probably why I have seen it dozens of times. The resentment is real.

Do I want to be working on a job site with heavy equipment with people under the influence from anything, alcohol or marijuana? And if I don’t want to work near these people with bulldozers, do I want to share a highway with them?

It’s little rich for the chattering classes to be preaching about drinking and driving and, with the same mouth, espousing marijuana legalization.

Over a decade ago I covered the sentencing of Norma Jean Mooswa. She had been on a multi-day bender, and her blood alcohol level was through the roof when, at high speed, she piled into a car waiting to make a left turn off the highway at Cochin on Canada Day. Three people died in her car (one was pregnant), and three people died in the car ahead of her.

No amount of legislation or penalties stopped her. It wouldn’t have mattered. She was going to drive, and those people were going to die. But maybe if alcohol wasn’t freely available, it might have made a difference.

Now, I fear, more people are going to die because of the legalization of marijuana. There will be tears and funerals. People may think eliminating prohibition of alcohol solved a lot of problems, but it sure as hell didn’t solve the problem of drunk driving. Thousands have died as a result.

Eliminating the prohibition on marijuana will have similar consequences. Thanks, Prime Minister Trudeau. The price will be paid in body bags.

Brian Zinchuk is editor of Pipeline News. He can be reached at brian.zinchuk@sasktel.net.

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