Marijuana, it seems, has gained acceptability as several states have legalized medcal use of the drug. But despite seeping into mainstream culture, a recent study suggests that marijuana use is no less dangerous when it comes to America’s roadways.
Results published in the October 4 edition of “Epidemiologic Reviews” suggest that marijuana use has a profound effect on the motor skills of the user for three or four hours and can more the double the likelihood of an accident. Dr. Guohua Li is a professor at New York City’s Columbia University and the lead author of the study.
In their research, Dr. Li and his colleagues found that those who use marijuana were 2.7 times more likely to crash than non-users. Much like alcohol, THC, the chemical ingredient in marijuana, is a depressant that creates a feeling of euphoria and generally slows reaction time.
The research could hold serious implications for states considering reforming of marijuana laws and those that already have. California, for example, is among 16 states that permit marijuana use as medical treatment under the supervision of a physician.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 23 percent of drivers fatally injured in California accidents tested positive for drugs in 2009. Among those tested nationwide, roughly 33 percent (3,952 out of 12,055) were found to have drugs in their system at the time of the accident.
Statistics collected by the California Department of Motor Vehicles suggest that drugs contributed to 749 fatal accidents in 2007 and 2,464 accidents with injury. So, while states may choose to provide citizens with limited access to marijuana for medical use, it seems clear that the drugs and cars don’t mix.