Cannabis Use Does Not Lead to Higher Chance of Getting Into a Traffic Accident, Study Finds

In a recent study published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, researchers from universities in California, Colorado and Oregon shed light on the connection between alcohol and cannabis use and the likelihood of getting into a traffic accident that requires a trip to the emergency room. The study found alcohol use is more than two times more likely to lead to a traffic accident than cannabis use.

The comprehensive analysis, using case-control data, revealed a significant distinction in crash risk associated with the use of alcohol and cannabis. Individuals who either self-reported or tested positive for alcohol use alone exhibited a crash risk more than twice that of those who did not use alcohol or cannabis.

Those who self-reported or tested positive for cannabis use showed a lower risk of having a motor vehicle accident (MVC) compared to those who did not use alcohol or cannabis. Interestingly, those who admitted to or tested positive for both alcohol and cannabis use, in some cases, presented a higher risk of accidents than those who used either substance in isolation.

“Cannabis alone was not associated with higher odds of MVC, while acute alcohol use alone, and combined use of alcohol and cannabis were both independently associated with higher odds of MVC,” the researcher wrote.

Study on Traffic Accidents and Cannabis Involved Three Cities

The authors concluded that their cross-sectional study, conducted in emergency departments in Denver, Portland and Sacramento, emphasized an elevated risk of MVC among individuals with acute alcohol and combined alcohol and cannabis use.

Notably, the study suggested a potential absence of added odds or even reduced odds for MVC among those using cannabis alone before driving. The researchers underscored the importance of focusing on actual driving behaviors and clinical signs of intoxication, rather than relying solely on specific drug-level thresholds, especially in an era marked by increased liberalization of cannabis.

Writing about the study, the cannabis-advocacy group NORML noted the study backs the organization’s opposition to using the level of THC for motorists. They have called for more use of advanced technology such as DRUID to determine whether someone is under the influence of cannabis. is under the influence. DRUID is a mobile app that tests for cognitive impairment of drivers.

The Complications of Testing for Cannabis Impairment

An ongoing issue in drug testing is the accuracy of traditional tests for detecting impairment by cannabis. THC can remain in the bloodstream or urine long after people stop feeling the effects. There already have been cases of people losing their jobs because they use medical marijuana and tested positive in a drug test.

Some states, such as California and New York, have taken action to protect workers, as have cities such as Philadelphia. When it comes to testing drivers, even those states without legal recreational marijuana have moved away from pursuing prosecutions based on drug test findings.

The researchers in the current study wrote that while “alcohol use alone or in conjunction with cannabis was consistently associated with higher odds for MVC” there is not a clear relationship between cannabis use and getting into a crash. They recommended that authorities place “emphasis on actual driving behaviors and clinical signs of intoxication to determine driving under the influence has the strongest rationale.”

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