Scientists Suggest Marijuana Can Improve Your Driving Skills

For a long time there has been a common social belief that driving while under the influence of marijuana is a dangerous risk.

Thx to wamu.org @flickr.com

Thx to wamu.org @flickr.com

There is ample evidence, however, that suggests this is simply not true. In fact, recent studies are beginning to suggest the opposite. There is no doubt about the culpability of alcohol for road accidents, and the statistics support the hypothesis. Marijuana, on the other hand, does not affect the psychomotor skills in the same severe manner that alcohol seems to affect people.

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.

What are the statistics?

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.

How does marijuana improve driving skills?

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.

Marijuana legalization brings more significance to this issue

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.

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Posted by on January 23, 2016. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION,Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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One Response to Scientists Suggest Marijuana Can Improve Your Driving Skills

  1. Bill Formby Reply

    January 23, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Comparing marijuana to alcohol does not seem like the best way to say that it is safe to drive high. Studies will be needed that actually test subjects motor skills while under the influence of marijuana. And, yes, there needs to be a way to determine the level of THC in the person before saying that it is OK to drive stoned.

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