A major B.C. study has found that a high proportion of young adults who consume marijuana admit they either drive while stoned or get into vehicles with drivers who’ve used marijuana.
Canadian studies have shown increased crash risks when drivers consume pot, and the high frequency of risky behaviour in the current study demonstrates a failure of approaches and the need for urgent action on the prevention and public-awareness front, the study says. This is especially relevant because of Canada’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana, according to lead author Bonnie Leadbeater, a University of Victoria psychology professor whose study is published in the journal Paediatrics and Child Health.
Vancouver General Hospital’s Jeff Brubacher, an emergency-room doctor and co-author of the current study, told Postmedia News recently that when marijuana is legalized, “there will be an increase in crashes, injuries and fatalities.”
Among frequent users of marijuana (more than once a week) in the study, 80 per cent of males and 75 per cent of females acknowledged they had, in the past month, been in a car driven by someone (including themselves) who had used marijuana or other drugs. Sixty-four per cent of frequent-using males and 33 per cent of females reported they were “intoxicated” with marijuana while driving, riding a motorcycle, boating or using machinery.
And half of the pot frequent-user males (42 per cent of females) said they’d been in a car with a driver who had used alcohol. Of occasional users (once a week at most), 28 per cent said they’d been in a car, in the past month, with a driver (including themselves) who had used alcohol.
“Epidemiological studies suggest that acute marijuana use approximately doubles the rate of crashing,” the study says, while allowing that the finding hasn’t been shown in all studies.