Stoned Drivers

Something I find amusing is that alcohol is legal and yet has all kinds of problems connected with it’s use.  Those who drink regularly cause harm to themselves and others.  On the other hand, marijuana has less health risks than even smoking cigarettes and has medical benefits.  Furthermore, people under the influence of marijuana drive as well or possibly slightly better than average.

Myths and Facts About Marijuana (Drug Policy Alliance Network)

Myth: Marijuana Use is a Major Cause Of Highway Accidents. Like alcohol, marijuana impairs psychomotor function and decreases driving ability. If marijuana use increases, an increase in of traffic fatalities is inevitable.

Fact: There is no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities. At some doses, marijuana affects perception and psychomotor performances- changes which could impair driving ability. However, in driving studies, marijuana produces little or no car-handling impairment- consistently less than produced by low moderate doses of alcohol and many legal medications. In contrast to alcohol, which tends to increase risky driving practices, marijuana tends to make subjects more cautious. Surveys of fatally injured drivers show that when THC is detected in the blood, alcohol is almost always detected as well. For some individuals, marijuana may play a role in bad driving. The overall rate of highway accidents appears not to be significantly affected by marijuana’s widespread use in society.

  • Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. “Legalization: Panacea or Pandora’s Box”. New York. (1995):36.
  • Swan, Neil. “A Look at Marijuana’s Harmful Effects.” NIDA Notes. 9.2 (1994): 14. 
  • Moskowitz, Herbert and Robert Petersen. Marijuana and Driving: A Review. Rockville: American Council for Drug Education, 1982. 7.
Mann, Peggy. Marijuana Alert. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985. 265.
 
A comprehensive 1992 study by the NHTSA found that marijuana is rarely involved in driving accidents, except when combined with alcohol. It concluded that “the THC-only drivers had an [accident] responsibility rate below that of the drug free driversS While the difference was not statistically significant, there was no indication that cannabis by itself was a cause of fatal crashes.” This study was buried for six years and not released until 1998.
 
In order to illustrate why marijuana use rarely leads to accidents, let me share this video that will help clarify the issue (start watching around the 3 min mark).
 
 
Cheech: “Hey man, am I driving okay?”
 
Chong: “I think we’re parked, man.”
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