Forty-five people were recruited to be tested for the latest research study in a driving simulator to see what effects Marijuana use (aka cannabis, pot) had on their driving skills and it was found that heavy users were dangerous drivers even when they were sober.
According to the research, if people started using pot before the age of 16 they were more inclined to be bad drivers. The study was reported in Drug and Alcohol Dependence and the conclusion is that early pot use changes the brain which influences their behavior resulting in impulsiveness and making them more apt to rash decisions.
The study was conducted by researchers from McLean Hospital in Boston, MA. It revealed that even when sober, cannabis users who began using it in their early teens drove at higher speeds, had more accidents and went through more red lights at intersections as compared to people who had never used marijuana.
Of the 45 people who were recruited, 28 of them (23 males and five females) were regular, heavy cannabis users and 17 were non-users (six males and 11 females). They were all tested for their driving abilities in a simulator. The average age of the participants was 23 years.
In order to make sure the 28 cannabis users wouldn’t be high at the time of the testing, they were told to abstain from any use of pot for 12 hours before their visit for the study.
All participants provided a urine sample that was tested for any drugs of abuse which included cannabis. They also filled out a questionnaire and did a psychological assessment.
During the simulated driving test, pot users were found to be more likely than non-users to cross the center line, speed, cruise through red lights, miss stop signs and hit a pedestrian. They were more likely as well to score high in their impulsive behavior.
When the researchers took a closer look at their data taking into consideration the age of the participant when they first started using cannabis, it was found that bad driving was directly correlated exclusively to early use of pot in their teen years.
The data for fatal vehicle crashes where drivers were tested for pot use more than doubled in 2016 from 2007 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It went from 8% to 18%.
This study does not affect people who use medical marijuana because what they use is low in THC which is the psychoactive element in recreational cannabis.
Eleven states allow adults 21 and over to use marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. Medical marijuana can be used legally in 21 states.