Drivers who smoke pot and then get on the wheels double their risks for a crash, compared to those who are not exposed to the addictive substance.
The findings from the study published in the Epidemiologic Reviews on October 4 may be common knowledge already, but the fact that more and more states are pushing for the legalization of marijuana makes it an important matter to consider before state officials make their decisions.
Senior study author and epidemiology professor Dr. Gouhua Li from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health in New York City says the legalization of medical marijuana also brings health implications that are very significant and should be looked into.
While there may be a decrease on alcohol use in the past few decades, the use of drugs and abuse of prescription medicines are on the rise.
Data gathered from a survey done in 2009 showed that more than 10 million people 12 years old and above have driven despite being under the influence of illicit drugs. Among them, 28% die from car crashes resulting from drug use. It was also found out that 11% of the drivers tested positive for drugs other than alcohol. The most common drug detected among the victims and drivers, after alcohol, is marijuana.
The study was able to conclude that the risk of vehicle crashes increase 2.7 times for marijuana users than non-users. The risks were also dose-specific, which means as the amount of marijuana taken is increased, risks shoot up as well.
Proponents of the study suggest that further studies be done on crash risks related to marijuana use. There are still more conditions to consider such as the strengths and doses of marijuana used and the method of administering the drug, whether by smoking or vaporization, to determine the same risk involved.