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British singer George Michael arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in London last week for sentencing, after admitting to driving under the influence of drugs and possession of cannabis. (Toby Melville/Reuters)
British singer George Michael arrives at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court in London last week for sentencing, after admitting to driving under the influence of drugs and possession of cannabis. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Road Sage

A humble suggestion for George Michael Add to ...

Dear George,

Hope this letter finds you well and adapting to prison life.

What was it the inmates sang when you were locked up? How much time do you have left on your eight-week sentence? Three weeks?

Remember when you sang "I don't want your freedom?" Kind of ironic now and not in the Alanis Morissette way. In 1988, you sold 20 million copies of your solo album Faith. Now the press refers to you as a "former member of the group Wham!."

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George, mate, how did it come to this?

I blame drugs and driving.

At 3:35 a.m. on July 4, while high on cannabis, you drove your Range Rover into a Snappy Snap photo shop busting the door and shattering windows. Of course, you were high on cannabis, only a paparazzi-plagued celebrity high on cannabis (and maybe other stuff) would drive his car into a photography store.

It was your third "under the influence" charge since 2006. The judge sentenced you to eight weeks and a ₤1,250 ($2003) fine. Not good.

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I guess you thought it was okay to drive stoned. I wouldn't take it too hard. Lots of people, who would never dream of driving drunk, feel comfortable smoking some weed and getting behind the wheel. For some reason, people think it's okay.

A 2007 Health Canada survey of Canadians between 15 and 24 found that one in five had driven after drinking but two in five had driven after smoking the wacky tabacky. Many's the time I've been at a party where some dude listening to Led Zeppelin has told me how much better he drives when he's high.

"I'm more careful," he'll say between hits. "And I drive slow. …"

And he's right. The stoned do drive slower.

Though scientific research is conflicted about the impairment caused by marijuana in relation to driving, a number of studies show that, unlike drunks, stoned drivers are more aware that they are high and try to compensate.

A U.S. Department of Transportation study - called The Effects on Driver-Controlled Behavior in a Driving Simulator, Phase 1 (they had to have been high when they thought up that one) - showed that alcohol consistently impaired driving but marijuana had only an occasional effect. A University of Toronto study conducted in 1999 found that "Both substances impair performance; however, the more cautious behaviour of subjects who received marijuana decreases the drug's impact on performance. Their behaviour is more appropriate to their impairment, whereas subjects who received alcohol tend to drive in a more risky manner."

In other words, when you're hammered, it's, "I'm the greatest guy in the world. Super sexy and on top of my game! Gimme the keys!"

When you're stoned it's, "I'm so high! Let's stop to get a falafel."

To which I'd say, "You're still impaired."

And George, when it comes to driving, there's no such thing as "a little impaired."

Where's the acceptance of driving stoned come from? It may have something to do with the whole "marijuana is from the earth" holistic argument. You know, anything that grows naturally can't be bad.

I never quite got that one. Everything on this planet is from the earth. Chemicals, plastic and pills all come from the earth. What's coming in from other planets? Maybe aliens are dropping stuff down from their space ships and I just don't know about it? (Note: if aliens are dropping weed out of their space ships, I know some people who would like to know where they are dropping it.)

Personally, I've never understood how getting high could make you think you can drive.

The idea of me behind the wheel, paranoid, with no feeling in my legs, driving on one flat tire, wondering why Jim Rockford never moved out of his Malibu trailer and if he ever got over his experiences fighting in Korea, is not the recipe for a relaxing cruise.

George, it pains me to see you this way. Your music has given joy to millions and you inspired the name of my favourite Arrested Development character. I've always had a soft spot for you. In the 1980s, we both shared the same haircut.

You're going to get out of the big house soon and you need to change your ways. A lot of people are going to urge you to stop getting high. That's up to you, at least as far as I'm concerned. Freedom 2010 baby! Still, it might be something to consider.

But if you decide not to, why not set an example for people everywhere who love to get high? If you love weed and mobility, why not move to Amsterdam (as ever-kewl Mark Wahlberg has suggested) and buy yourself a limo?

You can smoke as much cannabis as you want. George, you can smoke a Wham!-sized joint, you can smoke a Club Tropicana-sized bowl, you can smoke a Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go-sized vaporizer hit, eat whatever Dutch people eat and then have your driver motor you around the canals. It's all good so long as you're not driving.

George, I'm begging you. At least consider Amsterdam.

Or you can always move to Canada. Pretty much the same thing. If so, look me up. I'm from Toronto. We'll do lunch.

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