Op-Ed: Get this straight — Driving after smoking marijuana is dangerous
I've just seen another of these pro-marijuana websites that lists, among good things about smoking pot, that it helps you drive safer. This flies in the face of studies on the subject and logic; it's also self-serving and irresponsible.
Where to start? How about with an emergency room doctor in Canada, Dr. Jeffrey Brubacher, who is conducting a five year study on the subject. He's still 4 years away from results but he's seen the result of what can happen when people drive stoned
and he's seen the data.
Marijuana and driving: Dangers of caution
As Dr. Brubacher points out, after alcohol, cannabis is the world's second most commonly used impairment drug and he notes that while alcohol can make you more aggressive, marijuana makes you more cautious; both, he says, are dangerous while driving. Logic would seem to dictate that being slower, while perhaps good for some things, is not good for all the things you might have to do while behind the wheel of a car.
"There is clear evidence that cannabis, like alcohol, impairs the psychomotor skills required for safe driving. Cannabis intoxication slows reaction time and impairs automated tasks such as tracking ability - staying within a lane - or monitoring the speedometer," Brubacher said last July while announcing his study.
Simulator tests, Dr. Brubacher says, have shown drivers impaired by cannabis are more likely to fail to brake in time for "sudden obstacles." Dr. Brubacher noted surveys suggest drivers on cannabis are at increased risk of crashing and cited a survey from colleagues who "...found that those who drove after using cannabis were almost twice as likely to have crashed their car."
Crash more likely after smoking marijuana
Dr. Brubacher citing a study that says stoned drivers are "almost twice as likely to have crashed their car" suggests he may have looked at a meta-analysis
of 9 separate studies on driving after smoking pot done by researchers at Dalhousie University in Montreal, Canada. That study, which is titled Acute Cannabis Consumption and Motor Vehicle Collision Risk: A Systematic Review of Observational Studies
had a sample size of 49,411 and found that driving while under the influence of marijuana doubled the risk of an accident.
There are numerous other studies on the dangers of driving while stoned
, as there are studies on the dangers of marijuana for teenagers
. But there will always be websites and pot smokers that will deny them, claim it's a conspiracy etc.. So the task is to create laws and enforce them, like with drinking and driving.
Should we care if adults smoke marijuana? It seems a choice people should make on their own without repercussions from the law. But drivers, and teens, smoking marijuana, those things we should care about. And stop.