Marijuana and its Impact Upon Driving
The data surrounding marijuana and its harmful or non harmful impact upon people continues to be confusing. News of the latest studies is mystifying. Recently, two new reports about marijuana and driving were released, leaving readers scratching their head in confusion.
In a “ground breaking new study” reviewed in Medical News Today, researchers from the University of Colorado and Montana State University found, “Our research suggests that the legalization of medical marijuana reduces traffic fatalities through reducing alcohol consumption by young adults…” The news report goes on to state that this is the first study to examine the relationship between legalization of medical marijuana and traffic deaths.
However, in October, 2011, Science News released a story about a meta-analysis of 9 studies done by Columbia University which found that drivers who tested positive for marijuana use and reported driving within three hours of use, were twice as likely to have crashes than those who had not smoked. 8 out of 9 drivers who used marijuana were significantly more likely to be involved in crashes than other drivers.
The lead researcher stated, “Given the ongoing epidemic of drug-impaired driving and the increased permissibility and accessibility of marijuana for medical use in the U.S., it is urgent that we better understand the role of marijuana in causing car accidents”.
The connection between medical marijuana use, alcohol, driving and young adults does not seem clear. Furthermore, the study done by researchers at the University of Colorado and Montana State University did not make a distinction between medical marijuana use and regular marijuana use, if there is a difference. Nor did they refer to the other studies (according to Columbia University study and 9 other studies) in addressing findings about marijuana and driving. It is not clear how medical marijuana helps make the roads safer in light of the Columbia University meta-analysis.
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