- CRITTER TALK
- NEWS I FIND INTERESTING
This is not to say that marijuana does not affect psychomotor skills at all, but this impairment does not seem to have any connection with road accidents compared to those who are driving drug-free. It is also important to understand the different ways in which alcohol and marijuana affect the mood, the level of intoxication that they provide, and how this may affect one’s behavior, especially when driving.
There have been numerous studies on this particular issue over the years, and the results have always generally been quite consistent. The general evidence suggests that there is no real causal link between smoking marijuana and driving, and this is especially true in comparison to the statistics about driving on alcohol. Despite the fact that marijuana use comes with some impairment, this impairment does not seem to have a direct effect on driving skills.
In 2002, a review was released that contained seven studies that were conducted and included were reports of 7934 drivers. “Crash culpability studies have failed to demonstrate that drivers with cannabinoids in the blood are significantly more likely than drug-free drivers to be culpable in road crashes.” This review is supported by a study that occurred in South Australia, Australia by Professor Maclean. Professor Maclean conducted his study within Australia and took his samples from the blood of those brought to hospital to be treated for car accidents. The finding was that marijuana was the second most prevalent intoxicant present in the blood of those being treated in hospital for car accidents. However, of those that were using marijuana, less than half of them were found to be responsible for the car accident. On the other hand, 80% of those that were using alcohol before driving were found responsible for the car accident.
Professor Maclean, among other scientists who have undertaken these studies, find that marijuana can induce mood qualities that actually improve driving skills. It has already been established that there does not seem to be a causal link between smoking marijuana and increased driving impairment. The belief for this stems from the fact that those under the influence of marijuana sometimes experience something that resembles paranoia. They are then compelled to drive at the right speed and in the right way for fear of getting caught. However, the opposite takes place when someone is driving under the influence of alcohol. They tend to become overconfident and their judgement seems to continue to become more impaired the more intoxicated they are.
With marijuana becoming legal in more and more places in the world, the need to address the issue of driving under the influence of marijuana arises. This is particularly true in places where marijuana is legal for recreational use, as it can be anticipated that the number of drivers behind the wheel stoned is going to increase. However, given the information released by most recent studies, marijuana does not impair driving skills to the point where it is even less likely that someone on marijuana will crash than a sober person.
Authorities in countries where marijuana is now legal have had to take accurate measures to ensure that this does not become a problem. There needs to be some protocol about what should be acceptable, especially because people will be using it for all kinds of reasons. Currently, most drug test devices just check for the presence of THC, rather than checking for the volume of THC in the blood. This means that there is no concentration being measured, simply presence. THC lasts in the blood for hours after the effects have worn off, and a special protocol needs to be in place for this issue.