Does cannabis legalization increase impaired driving? According to the Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation’s (CPEAR) recently published paper, it does not.
One of the key findings of the policy report says the effect of legalization on DUIC is “either insignificant or declines a year after the legal market was implemented,” though the organization highlighted that “more research and better data collection” is needed.
The paper titled “Contextualizing the Problem: Driving Under the Influence of Cannabis and Other Drugs in America” also stressed that cannabis use alongside the use of other drugs can lead to impaired judgment and decision-making.
In addition, the report also attributed an increase in DUIC offenses to less knowledge of the impacts cannabis has on one’s ability to safely drive a vehicle.
“As CPEAR has always stated, it’s never safe to drive while under the intoxicating influence of cannabis,” said Shanita Penny, head of CPEAR’s Center of Excellence. “U.S. federal law should create a clear expectation that if you drive high, you will get a DUI, while also embracing the programs, technologies, and best practices to combat driving while intoxicated. We look forward to engaging with lawmakers on this critical matter as we continue to advocate for a federal framework for cannabis.”
Recent Research On Marijuana & Driving
Interestingly, a recent study revealed that over 40% of US drivers use both alcohol and marijuana.
Moreover, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Preventative Medicine Reports, frequent cannabis users in states where recreational marijuana is legal showed significantly lower risk of self-reported DUIC within three hours after use compared to those living in states where cannabis is not legal. Some drivers believe that driving while high does not affect their ability to operate an automobile despite warnings from law enforcement that the number of fatal car crashes involving cannabis has more than doubled in the past several years. Either way, the overall number of studies proving that cannabis legalization has a positive effect is on the rise.
Cannabis Legalization Decreases Impaired Driving
Earlier this year, researchers from state Universities of Tennessee, Arkansas and Iowa found that US recreational cannabis legalization reduced the number of heavy truck accidents by 11% in the eight states studied.
Some states went a step further, with Pennsylvania leading the way. A recent bill that seeks to protect medical marijuana patients in the Keystone State from being charged with driving under the influence was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee by a 13-0 vote.
Under the bill medical cannabis is to be equally treated like any other prescription narcotic, requiring proof of impairment of the person’s ability to drive in order to be charged with DUI.