Study: Cannabis users make for the most dangerous drivers

Posted Mar 10, 2020 by Tim Sandle
Driving and cannabis consumption do not go well together, a new study finds. The key finding is that recreational marijuana use impacts driving ability even when users are not intoxicated with the drug.
AFP file photo.
AFP file photo.
Jason Connolly, AFP/File
The research, from McLean Hospital, reveals that cannabis users tend to experience more accidents. This is related to users tending to drive at faster speeds, and having a tendency to jump red lights (based on figures for the general population). This applied whether regular cannabis users were 'high' or not.
Cannabis legalization has spread across a large portion of the U.S., displaying growth across a number of different demographic groups. This includes some 'at risk' sectors of the public, such as pregnant women (this is despite medical evidence being presented that this activity could harm their babies).
Another at risk group are young people, and here the McLean Hospital study found that earlier onset of marijuana use (defined as regular use of cannabis prior to age 16) was associated with the most unsafe driving performance, leading to a higher number of accidents. The indication of impaired driving performance, irrespective of when cannabis was last consumed, applied across all demographic groups; however, there was a particular association among those who first took the drug early in life.
To assess this, the researchers used a type of customized driving simulator and volunteer subjects in order to assess the potential impact of cannabis use on driving performance.
One of the research aims was to improve public education since many cannabis users appear unaware that they may drive differently (that is worse), even when they are not intoxicated.
The findings are published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, where the study is titled "Recreational Cannabis Use Impairs Driving Performance in the Absence of Acute Intoxication."
In related news, a different study, from Oregon State University, finds that marijuana use by college students is steadily increasing. What is interesting in terms of the recreational drug of choice is that in locales that have legalized recreational marijuana, the use has grown most greatly while at the same time alcohol consumption has fallen. With declining rates of alcohol consumption, this was especially with a fall with binge drinking.