Despite what the nation’s “Drug Czar” Gil Kerlikowske might say and what his office might promote, it’s being proven that driving under the influence of marijuana does not make you a dangerous driver. In fact, a new study shows that it makes virtually no difference in the driving abilities of most drivers.
Of course, that may not be saying much given the state of some highways in this nation, but at least the road hogs and blind spot lurkers don’t drive any worse while high.
Most of the studies for stoned and drunk driving were conducted in the 1970s. Driving simulators, measurement tools, and even drug potency were different then. Although studies into drunk driving have continued to the present, studies of marijuana’s effects on driving have not. A new study from researchers at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center has found that marijuana’s effects on driving – including separating data between men and women – is negligible.1
The research is legitimate, double-blind, placebo-controlled and used 85 subjects (50 men, 35 women) on driving simulators. Subjects were tested sober and then shortly after having smoked either a 2.9% THC marijuana joint or an identical placebo.
The only measurable difference in driving between those who were sober when stoned was that they tended to slow down and drive slower than otherwise. Which any safety advocate will tell you is almost always a good thing.
Other studies conducted overseas, including one in Israel published in 2008,2 showed similar results.
These studies and their findings should call into question every “impaired driving” law in which marijuana is treated the same as alcohol and hard drugs.
Of course, as marijuana becomes more and more socially acceptable and laws regarding its use loosen or are eliminated, a review of laws that lump it in with other, much more impairing drugs should be conducted as well.
1 – Sex differences in the effects of marijuana on simulated driving performance. by BM Anderson, M Rizzo, et al, Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, March 2010
2 – Effects of THC on driving performance, physiological state and subjective feelings relative to alcohol. by A Ronen, P Gershon, et al, Accident; analysis and prevention, May 2008
By Aaron Turpen